Corvallis Parent: Porter Park Plans, Helen Higgins of B&G Club, Looking Toward Graduation, Double Up Bucks, Helping Teachers

Porter Park will be closed for a few weeks. The park, located at 1895 NW Hayes Ave., is replacing its playground equipment. This upgrade is courtesy of grants from the State of Oregon and a donation from the Kiwanis Club of Corvallis Sunrisers.  

This upgrade is also thanks to two local women – Commissioner Nancy Wyse and Councilor Laurie Chaplen – who championed the project and worked with adjacent neighborhoods to design the changes.  

The new playground will have two structures geared toward appropriate age difficulty levels. The Work is scheduled to be completed in eight weeks, so the park should reopen in October. Check out the plans at the Parks & Rec website.  

What Boys & Girls Club Really Offers: The Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis is somewhat ubiquitous when it comes to services for kids, but what all do they do? We asked Chief Executive Office Helen Higgins.   

“We do all of the out-of-school programming for Kindergarten through twelfth grade – although twelfth graders don’t need out-of-school services,” Higgins said. “With the elementary kids, we’re really about safe and fun… When they get in the upper grades – like fourth, fifth, sixth grade – we’re helping them with homework, and our sixth graders have a leadership club.” 

Services don’t stop at elementary school though. Kids in seventh-through-twelfth grade move to the Teen Center, where they start to focus on career exploration and job skill training. 

“They run a coffee shop, so they’re getting actual business experience on how to operate, manage, market, and serve other clients – which are kids in the building,” Higgins said.  

 Services for kids go beyond the academic.   

“On the second floor of the Teen Center, Samaritan has youth mental health services. And then they’ll be bringing back in medical services… And then we have a dental clinic in our main building,” Higgins said. “So we actually have a medical home within the walls of the Boys & Girls Club, which is very unique. There is nothing else like it in the region.”  

It’s possible there might not be another club like Corvallis’s anywhere in the U.S. When asked why they provide these services that go so far beyond giving kids a place to play after the school day ends, Higgins talked about what seems to be her real passion in her job as CEO.  

“Our goal is to end intergenerational poverty,” Higgins said. “It’s a very audacious goal, but what we’ve found is just that consistently delivering services and showing up is what it takes.  

“The kids are always watching… to see if you’re committed to your word. My mantra is ‘We are boringly consistent.’ And I think that’s what kids really need… They know we’re going to be here, they know we’re going to do the programs, they know they can get access to the services.  

“You know, it pays off. We’ve literally launched hundreds and hundreds of kids… who wouldn’t have had the opportunities if we had not created the space and the programming. So, that’s very rewarding.”  

Another big goal that Higgins expressed for the children in Corvallis is to keep them in Benton County as they become adults.  

“It’s so much fun to see Club Kids in the community, and I’ve had several of my employees that have been Club Kids,” Higgins said. “Several have moved on to jobs with the City and the County… Those are good pathway jobs. It’s just been a lot of fun to develop the kids.” 

Graduation is Coming Sooner Than You Think: For many parents, this is the last year that their child will be in K-12 school and it’s time to look forward to graduation. However this might also be the time to look over a child’s transcript and to make sure they will be eligible to walk across that stage and receive their diploma.  

To graduate, you child needs the following: 

  • 4 English credits 
  • 3 Mathematics credits at or above Algebra 1 
  • 3 Science credits – meaning lab experience/science inquiry 
  • 3 Social Studies credits 
  • 1 Physical Education credit – for those in online PE classes must be approved by school administration 
  • 1 Health credit 
  • 0.5 Career Development credit 
  • 3 Applied/Fine Arts/Second Language credits from any one or a combination of languages 
  • 5.5 Electives credits 

In addition to these 24 academic credits, a graduate must “demonstrate proficiency in essential skills” which include reading, writing, and math. A graduate must also “meet personalized learning requirements” which refers to the “road map” each student creates with the help of guidance counselors of what they want to accomplish post-graduation.  

Double Your Fruits & Veggies: If you’re using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to feed family, then there’s good news in the form of Double Up Food Bucks.  

Through this collaboration of Farmers Market Fund and the Fair Food Network, you can now double your SNAP benefits to bring home more locally grown fruits and vegetables. Just go to the First Alternative Co-op, located at 1007 SE Third Street and 2855 NW Grant Avenue, select your fresh produce, and swipe your SNAP card. At the checkout, they will give you up to $20 of Double Up Bucks for free fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Teachers Ask for Help: Teachers across the U.S. are asking for a hand as they head back to school.  

Over the last couple of years, learning has changed for kids worldwide. The pandemic created a vacuum of sorts for kids where they had limited contact with others their own age and were exposed daily to the hard facts of disease and dying. Add to this the shortage of teachers, parent groups attempting to ban books and specific topics in schools, and the remaining threat of Covid-19. This has all led to behavioral issues as students head back into the classroom. 

So Parents magazine asked teachers across the country what they want parents to understand. Here’s what they want you to know. 

  1. All classrooms are not the same. Let your teachers form their pace and practices to the children in their classrooms. Remember that the teachers are the one who know what the students need to come out of the school year knowing, and they are constantly making plans to get those lessons taught. 
  2. There will be students playing “catch up” in terms of social development, so find ways to have your child interact with other children outside of school. Social and emotional learning still needs a boost. This refers to a child’s ability to have a sense of their own identity and emotions – and how to handle them. Watch your child for how well they empathize with others, because these skills will lead them to a happier friendship bond with their contemporaries. 
  3. Changes to school curriculum take a minute to adjust to. Give your teachers some time just as you would their students. This post-pandemic, Covid-endemic world is new for all of us.  
  4. Keep up on what’s happening in your home. Consistent rules, time for homework, and honest discussions about what’s happening in the world are important aspects of home life for every child. But remember, your kid needs a chance to make their own mistakes in order to learn things like there are repercussions to our actions and that you’ll love and support them regardless of what they do.

You and your child’s teachers are a team. So make sure to stay in touch with them and respect the fact that they also want all the best things for your children. 

By Sally K Lehman 

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