Making connections: Parents’ Association introduces program to connect students in different grades


Berk Oto

The Parents’ Association is introducing a new program to bring together Lab students attending different grades.

Caroline Hohner, Reporter

To virtually connect younger Lab students with older students, the Parents’ Association introduced Lab Kids Connect on April 30. The program will provide face-to-face engagement that younger students may lack during the remote learning and a way for older students to help out in the community.

U-High students can sign up for the program by requesting access to a Google Sheet that contains contact information for younger students looking to be paired and detailed instructions. 

Student pairs plan their own calls, while parent contacts for the program Na’ama Rokem and Farah Cheema maintain it only to the extent of keeping track of each buddy pair. 

Ms. Rokem, mother of third grader Yasmin Francez and eighth grader Alma Francez, proposed the program to a Lab parent group on Facebook after noticing how parents in the group seemed frustrated with the lack of face-to-face engagement for their children.

It’s a nice way to, on a small scale, give the older students an opportunity to volunteer or to do something that helps others.

— Na'ama Rokem

Ms. Rokem was inspired by her daughters’ connection with her three-year-old niece. Yasmin and Alma’s daily calls entertain her niece while allowing the girls to take responsibility and lend a hand to their uncle.

“For older kids, it’s a nice way to take responsibility for something and think about how you can help others, think about the younger kids who might be isolated and hungry for engagement,” Ms. Rokem said. “It’s a nice way to, on a small scale, give the older students an opportunity to volunteer or to do something that helps others.”

Lab Kids Connect seeks to provide help to busy parents and engagement to students. 

Ms. Cheema, mother of junior Noor Asad and eighth grader Adam Cheema, said she hopes that the program will continue to grow into the summer to occupy and engage kids missing out on summer camps and other programs that may have been canceled due to the concern over the coronavirus pandemic.

“Kids are so used to playing together, playdates and hanging out with each other. I think because of the current lockdown kids are missing that, and parents are also finding it hard because they have to do their jobs remotely as well as the kids are home, too,” Ms. Cheema said.

“I feel that this program would provide the kids an alternative and parents, a little bit of a breather as well.”