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Immokalee students celebrate back to school with spa day

By Judy Weeks

IMMOKALEE Immokalee community service departments coordinated their efforts on Aug. 15 to organize a Back to School Bonanza for the students in preparation for their 2011-2012 school year. A steady stream of young people circulated around the gym visiting each of the booths and collecting stamps in their passports to register for the door prizes.

Immokalee Council Liaison Kenny Joe Davis Sr. commended everyone on their enthusiasm in helping the children. He said, “Obtaining the tools for a successful school year lays the ground work for a bright future. Each of our departments is delivering an important message of encouragement and support to the kids and their parents.”

A personalized JanSport Backpack and school supplies awaited children from kindergarten to the 12th grade to enable them to begin their classes well prepared.

Professional hair stylists from one of Immokalee’s favorite salons remained busy throughout the day creating fashionable hairdos for the first day of school. Boys and girls waited eagerly to receive a new look, trim, bob, shave or mohawk.

The Fitness Department pampered their young clientele with a back, neck and shoulder massage and then joined Community Care for the Elderly in administering warm wax thermal hand baths to condition their hands and nails with a deep cleaning action. Next stop was the manicure table for a trim and artistic nail painting for girls.

The Clinic checked for lice and talked with parents regarding the importance of immunization and physical exams. Eye screening and a discussion about the pros and cons of glasses and contact lenses were provided by a licensed optician, as well as proper lighting, eye strain and protective eyewear considerations.

Seminole Police Department officers were also on hand to take fingerprints, DNA samples, current photographs and vital statistics to update personal physical information records. Their presentation on Internet safety provided awareness of the new dangers that await unsuspecting youngsters.

Dividing the group by gender, the boys and girls received instruction from Family Services employees Linda Freeman and Fred Mullins on personal hygiene, puberty, physical development and healthy choices, as well as combating peer pressure.

A drug-free theater documentary set the pace for Family Services Prevention officer Fred Mullins to ask the question, “Why do people take drugs?” An interaction with his youthful audience brought forth many insightful conclusions and displayed their acute awareness of the fact that drugs cause more problems than those people try to solve.

Students’ parents were encouraged to investigate tutoring programs, library opportunities and sign necessary release forms that will ensure a safe and productive new school year. Tribal policy on education and the rules and regulations for the upcoming year were also available.

Creating awareness of the Culture Department programs, Immokalee instructor Geraldine Osceola’s presentation on Tribal history, clans, language, arts and crafts opened the door for after-school programs and informative workshops.

A foremost objective of the 4-H program is responsibility, self-respect and family values. With the beginning of their new season, they are offering a variety of programs in addition to steer and swine projects. Cooking, photography, archery, fishing, small animal projects and a judging team are just a few of the programs in which the youth can register for participation.

Recreation and Immokalee Seminole Ranch supplied a child-friendly lunch that emphasized healthy food choices and a discussion followed about the importance of exercise and proper hydration.

“There is an excellent turnout here today,” said Immokalee Board Liaison Dorothy Benson. “Parental involvement has reached an all-time high, and I am very grateful to each of the departments for their valuable assistance in making our children’s education a priority.”

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