As the school year wraps up, Forest Park’s Community Education Council met May 11 to consider its successes and challenges. The council is an amalgamation of several local government bodies, social service providers and the Chamber of Commerce. The group focuses primarily on offering added services to school-aged children and seniors. Currently the group is actively planning its summer programs.

“Community Education is something really not heard of in many other communities,” said Dave Novak, park district executive director and Chamber of Commerce representative to the group. “Other communities deal with turf wars, we’re dealing with cooperation. Everything works together and we are glad we do cooperate here.”

Among the Community Education Council stalwarts are the park district, District 91, the Community Center and the Chamber.

The park district reported on several of its programs which are run in cooperation with the council. Among them were the popular Daddy-Daughter Date Night, the Castle Lock-in and the family campout.

According to the report, the district had a large participation in last year’s Down Hill Derby, which has been cancelled this year for a lack of participation. More than 20 kids participated in 2004 in the Derby.

In addition, the park district Camp Out hosted more than 35 families for a total of 150 participants who enjoyed dinner, ghost stories and a movie. The Day Camp for 2004 was also a success, with a “huge increase in participants” in the summer of 2004.

The Teen Center at the park was also a success, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during this past school year and serving kids in grades six through eight. On average, the report states, there were between 15 and 30 teens using the facility after school.

Many of the council’s programs focus on academic assistance and tutoring for students and drug education counseling. The academic assistance program provides three certified teachers working at the library and at the Community Center to provide tutoring services.

At the library, said Joanne Leber, the Home Work Help Program had two teachers running the tutoring services after school for two hours a day, four days a week. Last year, the duties were shared amongst three teachers from St. Bernardine School.

At the library, Leber said, there are on average six to 12 kids who use the service, most of the students are from St. Bernardine School. The teachers were paid at a rate of $15 an hour.

At the Community Center, the program, is run as part of the After-School Clubhouse

Between the two locations, 296 hours of homework help have been conducted and the teachers have been paid a total of $4,400, from September through May 10.

The council is also a long-time sponsor of a multi-media presentation for the village’s schools, produced by Camfel Productions, Inc. The Camfel program, Leber reported, has also been a success. “It started many years ago and we have been sponsoring the program for more than 20 years,” Leber said. “It is a multi-media presentation that is topical for each generation. It is a good thing to start the school year.”

The presentation runs twice a year, at the beginning of the year, for students at the Forest Park Middle School. The teachers receive a study guide they can work through with their students after each presentation.

Next school year, the students will be receiving a presentation focused on “being the change.”

In addition, the council funds a social worker who provides drug education counseling.

James Murray handled the counseling through December 2004, then handed the reins over to Braden Chmiel, a social worker for the Forest Park Public Schools. Chmiel is paid $20 per house for conducting counseling services through Community Education. Thus far, the program has conducted 11 hours of drug education, between September 2004 and May 2005, for a total of $196.

“The program has not been as active as in the past,” Leber said.

Finally, the Community Center reported on its annual health fair and health care programs. Last year the Community Center provided 150 pneumonia shots and 150 flu shots.