There is an unfortunate trend when it comes to parental involvement in school activities.

As students grow older parents tend to become less actively involved in school events.

That is a trend Hoopeston Area Middle School Principal Michelle White is hoping to change.

White discussed the Middle School’s efforts to get parents more actively involved in school activities during an interview with The Chronicle last week.

“We know that parents are very involved in the elementary years, but, for whatever reason, that involvement tends to dwindle as they get into the Middle School,” White said.

This is a problem, White said, as that parental involvement is still vital as the students grow older.

“Our research shows that parental involvement is just as important in the Middle School as it is in the elementary buildings,” she said. “Parental involvement can lead to wonderful things like increased attendance, better academic scores, better student emotional well being and, overall, just a better functioning school.”

White said the Middle School is working through its Family Engagement Committee, which includes some parents, that is working to open doors more to the parents.

She said the committee wants to get more parents volunteers inside the building while also spreading the message that parents are welcome to visit the school and spend time with their students during the day by coming in to have lunch with their children or play with them at recess.

White said they would like to have parents volunteer their time as monitors in the hallways during the day or to serve as morning greeters for students at the start of the school day.

“We have two fantastic staff members that stand at the doors every morning that greet students by singing and dancing,” she said. “So parents are always welcome to serve as morning greeters as well.”

White said there are also opportunities for parents to be involved in parent-teacher conferences and family nights in various roles such as handing out informational items and showing other parents around the building.

There are also several committees that are seeking parents to serve on them, White said.

“That’s an opportunity for parents to have a voice in how our school is run,” she said.

White also cited the district’s mentoring program which she feels is a great way for parents to get involved.

Beyond the mentoring program, White said the school is always looking for tutors to work with students.

“I know people tend to shy away from Middle School math, but if that is a strength for people, we welcome tutors as well,” she said.

White said the Middle School is always looking for donated items for the High School Food Pantry.

She said Middle School students also use the pantry, so the more food and personal hygiene products that donated, the more beneficial it can be for both high school and middle school students.

The Middle School is also building emergency buckets to keep in the classrooms.

White said these will be kept in the classrooms in the event of some sort of emergency where they have to lockdown the classrooms.

“Any kind of first aid items that might be able to be donated to go in those buckets would be appreciated,” she said.

White said the school is also always in need of school supplies, so donations are appreciated.

White said they are open to suggestions from the community about other ways to get parents involved or other roles they could fill in the school.

“We know that everyone has their own unique talents and gifts,” she said. “We’re open to suggestions if there are parents who really want to come in and volunteer for anything we haven’t thought of, we’re open to pretty much anything.”

For most of the roles that the Middle School is looking to get parents involved in, White said, the school will only need to perform a very basic background check, which mainly involves filling out some paperwork through the district office.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Middle School is encouraged to contact the Middle School office at 217-283-6664 or email White at whiteml@hoopeston.k12.il.us.