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Northview Barbecue Creates Community Engagement

 A student watches as the stuffed animals race along the track.

October 20, 2023 - Students and their families experienced an evening of fun and community engagement at Northview’s sixth annual barbecue and transition fair. The event is held every year to allow families to network and give them the opportunity to meet the staff who work with their children every day. 

“We’re grateful to our staff and all the hard work they’ve put into making this a great evening for our families,” said Brian O’Connor, principal. 

“I love seeing that we not only have our students here, but their siblings and extended family,” said Mark Sharp, assistant principal. “The event has a great community feel.”

Northview staff led carnival games such as sand art, spin the wheel, duck pond, and gave out temporary tattoos. Players won prizes and indulged in free barbecue, popcorn, and cotton candy. 

“I can’t help that I have a sugary sweet tooth, so I got cotton candy,” said Devon Wantz, 12th-grader. “I did the game where you throw the bean bags at the cans and won my baby niece a little stuffed animal dinosaur. This is the last time I’ll be at this event before I graduate, so I’m kind of bummed. I’m making the best of it.” 

Along with carnival games and food, there were over 20 vendors from local agencies present. Organizations like Goodwill, Valley Industries, Center for Human Services, St. Louis Arc, and Easterseals Midwest were available to talk one-on-one with families about transition services. 

“I help run the Pre-Employment Transition Services program at the University of Missouri in Columbia,” said Bevery Lynch, pre-employment specialist. “We work with students who are transitioning from high school to after high school and anybody can benefit from our program. Some students will want to go to college after high school and others may choose to go to a community college. Some will go into the trades and some will opt to go straight into the workforce. Whichever avenue they choose, we want to help them transition smoothly.”

Spirit wear designed and made by Northview students was also available for purchase. Patrons could choose from short and long-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies, all decked out in Northview colors. 

“Money raised goes to the Northview food pantry,” said Katie Harston, speech-language pathologist. “Being here to show off the students' work and watching them interact with their families, I love seeing how happy they are to be here. It’s great.”