Angie Manzanares
Families gather at West Lake Junior High School for its Family and Community Outreach Center to learn about free programs offered there.

WEST VALLEY CITY — Jazmin Carrillo stood among rows of computers looking at the scene around her: Children munching on hot dogs and chips and parents grouped together speaking Spanish to one another while others investigated colorful, informational fliers and brochures that lined a small portion of the relocatable classroom's wall.

“I think it’s time for students to shape up their grades,” she said. “My mom brought me here to help out.”

Jazmin is a ninth-grade student at West Lake Junior High School in West Valley City. She is looking forward to giving and receiving assistance at the Family and Community Outreach Center located at the south end of the school’s property.

The center provides numerous services to parents and families in the community and recently hosted an open house for parents and students.

“We want to bridge the gap between the school, students and parents,” said West Lake center coordinator Andrea Martinez. “I want this to be a one-stop shop, a hub for the community.”

Services available to parents and families include information about free and reduced-cost health care and dental services, volunteer opportunities, parenting classes and discussion groups, and assistance filling out medical and government forms.

Granite School District has 25 family and community centers at schools throughout the valley that are open to all community members. Each center aims to improve student achievement and parent engagement by establishing a collaboration among school, family and community.

“We want to build leadership among parents,” said Family and Community Outreach specialist Georgia Block. “We want our parents to feel confident enough to participate in school community councils and parent-teacher associations.”

Block said several parents are getting involved after utilizing the centers and many have run for seats on school committees and won.

The center also provides services such as translation for student education plan conferences and orientation for new students.

“Our biggest goal is to strengthen families,” Block said. “If we strengthen parents, and they strengthen students, then we strengthen the community.”

For more information about Granite School District Family and Community Outreach Centers, please call 385-646-4642.

Angie Manzanares is a former teacher and journalist. She currently works for the Granite School District as a public relations specialist. Her hobbies include photography, graphic design, dancing and screaming at Jazz games.