Bearfield welcomes ‘Cool’ guest

Published 7:24 am Friday, December 24, 2010

“Cool Jack” greets Bearfield Primary School students during her visit to Ahoskie on Monday morning. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

AHOSKIE – Some scurried for cover, seeking to hide from an odd-looking stranger that had invaded their space.

Others were bold, choosing to immediately introduce themselves to the new arrival.

In the end, all had a chance to meet and greet “Cool Jack” – Frosty the Snowman’s cousin who paid a surprise visit to students and staff at Bearfield Primary School here Monday.

“Cool Jack” – aka Cheryl Mathias, who serves as an Ambassador for the City of Norfolk, Va. – made the local appearance courtesy of Fathers In Focus Network (FIFN), an adult male mentoring program offered by CADA.

“We just wanted to offer something different,” said Robert Chadwick, a FIFN Development Specialist. “All children are exposed to visits from Santa and are knowledgeable of the North Pole and Santa’s reindeer. ‘Cool Jack’ is different and everywhere she goes the children simply fall in love.”

At Bearfield, it’s debatable who fell in love first, the children with “Cool Jack” or the round, snowball creature with the students.

Without saying a word, “Cool Jack” was able to entertain the children through body motion and high fives. She was in constant motion, often performing a solo dance. In one case, she joined Pre-K teacher Mae Rose in dancing in front of the adorning students.

“What’s so great about ‘Cool Jack’ when she performs is that it becomes a family outing…her mom and dad accompany her to many of her events; they’re coming here today with her from Virginia,” Chadwick noted.

The visit to Bearfield included all 45 classrooms, meaning ‘Cool Jack’ interacted with every student in attendance on Monday, whether they were in their rooms or standing in hallways awaiting lunch.

The shrills of excitement and laughter within those classrooms were typical of young children having the chance to interact, firsthand, with a cartoon-type character. Many students weren’t at all bashful to greet their soft, furry guest with big, warm hugs. Upon exiting each classroom, the students, in unison, wished their guest a Merry Christmas.

In coach Beale’s PE class, the students took a break from their exercise routine to greet “Cool Jack” who, in turn, led the youngsters in a workout.

“I hope ‘Cool Jack’ doesn’t get too hot from all this exercise, she might melt,” Coach Beale told her class.

“We’ve used the grant money that fuels the Fathers in Focus program to do a lot innovative things,” Chadwick said. “Some may question how bringing a snowman like character to a school attended by such young children fits into the scope of our program. The simple answer is that some of the fathers enrolled in our program have children attending school here. This is about the kids, showing them that they are loved, that we can reach out to them; the same thing we do in our Fathers in Focus program.”

FIFN is designed to promote responsible fatherhood, strengthen families and enhance the nurturing environment the children deserve and need.

Targeting males between the ages of 16-30 from Bertie, Halifax, Hertford and Northampton counties, FIFN uses a three-part program: Personal Development (teaching values and manhood); Life Skills (communication and decision making); and Responsible Fatherhood (the father’s influence on his children and how to build a child’s self-esteem).

For more information on FIFN, contact Chadwick at 252-287-5959.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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