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CUSD hosts series of town hall meetings to engage with and inform families
• First meeting deals with suicide prevention
CUSD town hall first
Parents attended the first of four town hall meetings on Oct. 4, this meeting to focus on suicide awareness and prevention. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ceres Unified School District

The Ceres Unified School District will host four town hall meetings during the school year to engage and inform families and the community regarding topics that significantly impact youth. The first meeting, held Oct. 4, focused on suicide awareness and prevention. Approximately 150 people attended. 

“The town hall meetings provide a way for our team to connect with families to discuss important topics and facilitate access to community resources,” said CUSD’s Coordinator of Student Services Edith Narayan. “We have specifically invited organizations that can provide information or services relative to the topics being discussed.” 

For the first town hall meeting, staff from Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services teamed with CUSD mental health staff to present information on social-emotional learning and destigmatizing mental illness, both of which are fundamental to preventing suicide. 

“Suicide is a major public health concern and is among the leading causes of death in the United States for youth,” said CUSD psychologist Dr. Christina Alviso, citing statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Yet suicide is preventable when families and communities partner to employ strategies and resources that promote resilience and support those in crisis.” 

Feedback from families who attended the first meeting was positive, said event coordinator Lillian Loera of the district’s Family Resource Center. “Several parents expressed that they needed to be there due to concerns with their own children,” Loera said. “Many lingered after the meeting to ask questions.” 

According to Loera, topics were selected based on input from families and the district’s community liaisons – staff members whose primary function is supporting student success through productive partnerships with families and the community. “It was a consolidated team effort,” she said.

The district’s town hall meetings take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Argus/Endeavor Multi-use Room, 2555 Lawrence St., Ceres. Free childcare, dinner, and Spanish translation are available. Upcoming topics are: 

• Social media and cyberbullying (Tuesday, Dec. 6) 

• Foster youth parenting (Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023) 

• Drug awareness (Tuesday, April 25, 2023) 

In addition to Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, organizations partnering in the town hall meetings include Haven Women’s Center, Pajama Program Central Valley Chapter, Golden Valley Health Centers, Ceres Partnership, Youth Navigation Center of Stanislaus County, Elite Family Systems, Ceres Police Department, and We “R” La Raza Parent Advocate. 

“We all share a purpose that includes focusing on family strengths and supporting family function,” said Loera. “Nurturing healthy systems of care and child development optimizes a student’s ability to reach their full academic potential.”