A slice of life skills

At Family Pizza Night, Burlington Township families got together for a night of crafts, activities and of course, pizza.

Irma Ortiz assists her daughter Olivia, a second-grader at Bernice Young Elementary, unwrap her pizza dough during Family Pizza Night, part of the school district’s ongoing Family Learning Series.

By Stephen Finn

The Sun

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The Burlington Township School District started the Family Learning Series with an aim to foster a partnership between the home and school and help reinforce curriculum.

In a letter to parents, Director of Human Resources and Public Relations Coordinator for Burlington Township Schools Liz Scott described the overall goal of the series.

“The program allows time for families to learn and work together in an enjoyable and fun atmosphere, while increasing positive dialogue between school, parents and kids,” said Scott. “Families will learn ways to become more involved with their child’s academic education. More importantly, it gives parents the opportunity to spend one-on-one quality time with their child.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Burlington Township High School hosted the latest event in the series — Family Pizza Night. Parents and students from Bernice Young Elementary enjoyed a night of pizza-themed crafts and activities before getting a chance to make their own pie from scratch.

Supervising the event were high school family and consumer science teachers Ruth Seel and Heather Barr.

“From the high school perspective, we teach life skills. We teach our students to be independent thinkers, to be problem solvers, to be constructive members of the community, to hopefully become better people, better communicators, better parents” said Seel.

“We’re a dying breed,” added Barr.

The two consider life skills classes like family and consumer science to be just as important for students as primary subjects like science and math.

“We’re very, very lucky because our district is a strong supporter of our program, which is really awesome because many schools have not continued these programs that are so critical for students today,” said Seel.

The teachers hope the night’s program will plant a seed of interest in life skills among younger students and provide an opportunity for parents to spend one-on-one time with their kids.

“Introducing the young students to what we do is just a springboard to get them to think about healthy eating and ‘make it don’t buy it,’” said Seel. “Tonight’s about parents spending time with their children and quality activity.”

Helping to set up for the night and assist with the program were a number of high school students — members of the Family Career Community Leaders of America Club, which Seel and Barr run together.

Club officers Kelly Santor and Christine Li explained what the club is all about and what they get out of it.

“It’s based on leadership, family, careers and learning. It unites students, and we collaborate and do service projects,” said Santor. “I’ve learned a lot of qualities of leadership that I can take with me out of high school and into college.”

“A lot of the planning comes from us since we’re officers. We have to recruit people, we have to make sign-up sheets and we’re in charge of the Google Classroom where we make announcements to everybody,” said Li.

Resident Irma Ortiz brought her daughter Olivia, a second-grader at Bernice Young, hoping for a fun, educational night.

“Whenever Ms. Seel sets something up we make sure we get involved,” said Ortiz.

She and Olivia previously attended a similar event, hosted by Seel, where young students made gingerbread houses.

“It helped (Olivia) learn how to build things. At home she built with Legos and made more creations, it gave her some ideas,” said Irma.

As a mother, she was grateful for another opportunity to teach her daughter cooking skills and kitchen safety in a fun environment where she is also able to socialize with her peers.

“I like for her to know what she can and can’t do where it’s going to be safe for her,” said Irma.

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