Posted on November 10, 2021 at 12:11 p.m.
Catasauqua Communities That Care met on October 19 and took the next step by creating the group’s new vision statement.
Members had heard five options for the vision plan at the September 21 meeting. From there, coalition members reduced the options to three. Catasauqua Middle School counselor and CTC coordinator Amy Dymond-Jones then asked the group to vote for their favorite via email.
This work is part of an effort to cultivate a fully developed communications plan. The communications plan is a priority for the group, identified from the recent coalition feedback report.
It was said that a clear and understandable explanation of the group, its goals and efforts would be helpful in keeping all members on the same page, especially when discussing the CTC with outside groups.
The next step is to finalize an updated mission statement for the group. Holy Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church pastor Brian Riedy suggested incorporating the coalition’s three main priorities – supporting economically disadvantaged students; decrease drugs, alcohol and gambling; and focus on the mental well-being of students.
Dymond-Jones will work with Denise Continenza, Penn State Extension educator and CLC coordinator, to develop a new mission statement. They should present a project to the members of the coalition at the next meeting.
“You have made great strides in your action plan,” said Meghan Lynn Blevins, of Penn State EPISCenter. EPIS stands for Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support. Blevins helped the coalition develop their plan to process the data from the coalition feedback report.
It was noted that the group is working to plan dates for the implementation of the Pennsylvania Youth Survey at CMS and Catasauqua High School this year. The anonymous survey will be administered to students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12. The results will be tabulated and compiled into data that the CTC will use to plan for the future.
Dymond-Jones also noted that the students had just finished taking the PASS survey. This is administered to all students in the district and provides an opportunity to take stock of students’ social / emotional concerns.
Student services coordinator Shelley Keffer said the district paid for the universal filter through a Pathways to Graduation grant and through a partnership with Salisbury Behavioral Health. There are two sessions of the survey, one in October and the other in May.
These surveys help the administration to see how the students are doing and will help them plan the programs to be implemented to best support the students. Taking the survey at two different times will hopefully allow the administration to see the changes throughout the year.
The Assistant Superintendent of the Catasauqua Region School District, Dr. Christina Lutz-Doemling, said she attended a training workshop on the sustainability of Essential Skills training. She noted that CMS and SCH programs are aligned with social / emotional skills.
There was a discussion about the future funding of the program, since the program is currently only funded for three years. CASD programs have started at different times, so some classes are finishing their third year of programming, while others are just getting started.
Continenza said she has the workbooks to continue with the sixth grade program for another year. Lutz-Doemling and Continenza have indicated that they are both considering a potential online option for the program.
In other cases, Dalilah Jusino, a mental health therapist with Salisbury Behavioral Health working in the district, has reported that she is noticing an increase in family discord. She said staff are currently working on implementing more family home services.
To help support economically disadvantaged children, Continenza reported that the Whitehall Area Rotary Club has partnered with Operation Warm to purchase coats at cost for students in need as part of Operation Warm Coat. . She noted that the Rotary Club received a grant of $ 2,000 to help purchase the coats. According to Continenza, they will buy 100 coats – 70 for WCSD students and 30 for CASD students.
Lois Reed, CASD business supervisor and organizer of the Catasauqua Community Cares program, said the district holds an annual coat drive, which can be used to distribute new coats. She noted that the group had distributed 140 to 150 coats last year.
Dymond-Jones noted that the CMS is participating in Red Ribbon Week, which was held October 23-31. The goal of Red Ribbon Week is to help kids get free from drugs. She said she hopes they can organize a vaping program through the Center for Humanistic Change.
CMS students had different fancy dress day themes for Red Ribbon Week including wearing red, wearing hats to ‘put on a drug cap’, wearing team shirts or jerseys to ‘team up’ against drugs ”and wearing camouflage so drugs“ can’t find us. ”Those days of disguise culminated with the Halloween disguise on October 29, so“ drugs won’t haunt us. ”
Dymond-Jones also noted that CMS principal Melissa Inselmann had purchased new drug-free themed thongs for all students.
The Catasauqua CLC will then meet at 2:30 p.m. on November 16.