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"Community Is the Answer" - Holmes, Julian Host "Come Together" Events

Photo: "Come Together" event at JulianHolmes Elementary School and Julian Middle School are fostering community, kindness and belonging through their new "Come Together" community engagement campaigns.

At both schools, the initiative features a series of events designed to connect school families, strengthen relationships between families and staff, and make school a place where every student gets what they need to succeed. The events were organized through partnerships with the school PTOs and the Oak Park E-Team.

More than 50 people attended each "Come Together" kickoff event, held Dec. 11 at Holmes and Jan. 15 at Julian. Students, staff and families connected over dinner, and learned about mindfulness practices and the goals of the series. They also engaged in community-building circles, which provided the opportunity for everyone to share their experiences and propose ideas for future events. Childcare was provided at both events, and students were able to receive homework help and participate in musical activities and structured games.

"Our goal was to have students, families and staff gather to get to know each other and discuss ways for building community in our school," said Gina Harris, climate and culture coach at Julian. "The event created a space where all were seen and heard, and their input valued."

At Holmes, the idea for "Come Together" came out of the PTO's goal of strengthening relationships and building positivity in the school community.

"We knew we wanted not only to bring the community closer, but to also bring kindness to others and to help them feel like they belong," said Layla Krause, co-president of the Holmes PTO.

The next "Come Together" event at Holmes will be held Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. At Julian, events are planned for Thursday, Feb. 20; Monday, April 20; and Wednesday, May 27.