This week, several schools opened their doors to new and returning families during their Winter open house events. Schools focused on showcasing the achievements of students and gaining enrollment of prospective families, while providing a fun and welcoming environment.  


The staff and students at Louis B. Russell School 48 worked hard in preparation for their open house.  They warmly welcomed over 300 families and community partners that were in attendance. To honor the outstanding achievements of students in grades K-6, the school leadership team organized an awards ceremony. The ceremony was followed by a holiday program filled with dancing and singing from some talented students.


“I most enjoy the excitement of parents and students coming to our school with the hopes of finding a safe, loving, environment for their children,” says Louis B. Russell School 48 Parent Involvement Educator, Monica De La Paz. “It brings a certain satisfaction to the whole school when folks walk through and see children learning, teachers teaching and feeling like this is the place they want their family to be!” 


At Christian Park School 82, the team proudly greeted over 400 current and potential families, showcasing all of the wonderful program offerings within the school. “We provide high quality education with academic success, high expectations for every student and strong parental engagement,” says Parent Involvement Educator of Christian Park School 82, Jeanine Jordan. “Our motto is Partnering with Parents and Community, and we stand by that!” 


The “Middle School Experts” at Harshman Magnet Middle School offered a guided tour of the school, giving potential families a more intimate look at the options and programs available. Harshman Magnet Middle School currently serves 7th and 8th grade, as the only traditional middle school option in the IPS district. As a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Magnet, they offer many unique classes and afterschool programs such as 3D printing, robotics and engineering that capture students’ imagination while igniting higher order thinking skills. Harshman Magnet Middle School currently offers three robotics teams: the Robo Vikings, Eaglet and Metal Vex. This hands-on learning opportunity offers students an engaging way to learn STEM concepts; all skills that are needed to be successful in today’s society. They participate in VEX sponsored competitions four times a year at city and national level. STEM programming within Harshman Magnet Middle School is supported by The Techpoint Foundation and The IUPUI School of Informatics. With help from strong community partners our students are able to reach their full potential. Robotics is one of the many interest-based advisories available at Harshman Magnet Middle School. On Friday afternoons, students are offered  their choice of an elective that peaks their interest such as Minecraft, Robotics, Knitting, Zumba, Judicial Group/Student Court, Couch to 5k or Believe in Yourself. An Arts Rotation is also a program that allows for a nine-week focus group in varying areas like culinary arts or computer generated arts.


Did you know that Harshman Magnet Middle School is also a World Language Magnet? This exciting program exposes students to a variety of cultures and languages including Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. Students can expect to complete their World Language program at Harshman Magnet Middle School with a high school fluency level. The course is counted as dual credit and will transfer with the student, allowing them to begin their high school career at Arsenal Technical High School or Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School in a Level Two World Language class. In a recent study, nearly nine out of 10 European, Latin American and Asian recruiters consider bilingual abilities to be crucial for success in today’s job market, roughly 66 percent of U.S. Recruiters agreed. Knowing other languages and being exposed to other cultures is a criticalskill set for students as they prepare to live and work in our diverse society. 


As an added bonus, Harshman Magnet Middle School is also able to operate an in-school clinic, “Thanks to Health Net, we are able to offer this service to our students,” shared Harshman Magnet Middle School Parent Involvement Educator Carrie Murphy. “The clinic is staffed with nurses where students can receive everything from physicals to treatment for minor ailments; allowing students to remain active within school, without having to miss class.” Studies show that students who are absent an average of 15 days a year miss a year’s worth of school before their senior year! 


Open houses can be both exciting and stressful for parents and students. There is a lot of information to absorb and many factors that can weigh the ultimate decision about which school to choose. To ensure your family is prepared for your next school visit, here are a few tips to make the visit a success:


Arrive Early. Ensure you have enough time to tour the school and classrooms. It’s important to evaluate the space and the technology being utilized. 


Engage. Talk to teachers, school leaders and classmates. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the individuals that will make an impact on the student’s life.


Gather Information. Ask questions, and be sure to take home any handouts so that the information can be referred to later, if needed. Teachers and staff will have a wealth of information that is helpful when transitioning to a new school. Be sure to ask about schedules, buses, meals, extra-curricular activities, programs, support services, academic challenges or strengths your student may have and how you can get involved as a parent. 


Open houses for schools throughout the district will be on hiatus over Winter break. Check the district calendar for upcoming dates and times, or contact the school of your choice directly for more information.