Miss that "back-to-school" feeling? Why not volunteer as a tutor for Stewart Alternative Elementary School students?

Miss that "back-to-school" feeling? Why not volunteer as a tutor for Stewart Alternative Elementary School students?

Still housed at the Beck Street School due to a 2010 fire, the students from Stewart have benefited from local tutors for years. Because Stewart is the German Village Society's "adopted school," we're aiming to do our part and make sure there are enough tutors on hand to make this school year a great success.

Beck Street resident Kathy Wightman has coordinated the society's end of the tutoring program for several years, and her counterpart at the school is Christine Barney. Both women are eager to find new volunteers to fill in the gaps, lend a hand and provide a few hours each week to a student looking for a little homework help.

I know that hours are tricky for working professionals, but it's an incredibly rewarding volunteer opportunity that really doesn't take much of your time. And don't think you aren't qualified if you don't remember how to add fractions or what started World War I - everyone is more than qualified to help.

If you are interested in learning more, please email Wightman at kwightma@aol.com and she'll set you off on the right path. You'll get to spend your time with enthusiastic students in a historic school building that is walkable from home.

Those are pretty good volunteering conditions, if you ask me.

If you're game for working with kids, another volunteering option is to help with student tours at the Meeting Haus. Most tours are in the mornings and they are for third- and fourth-grade students from around Columbus. The script is easy, the audience is fun and super creative with their questions and if you've got an hour to spare, it could be the most interesting hour of your day.

Facilitating the architectural scavenger hunt tour isn't as regular a commitment as tutoring at Stewart, so if your schedule has some flexibility, please consider helping with this and call the Meeting Haus at (614) 221-8888 to learn more.

While Stewart is the society's "adopted school," it is not the only local school building in which residents may get involved.

Last week at St. Mary School, a growing and much-loved tradition took place: the Schultuete ceremony for the schools' incoming first grade. The entire school presents gifts in some form or another (songs, skits, poems) to the first grade, welcoming them to the ranks and waylaying any fears they may have of being in "real" school.

The ceremony began several years ago when fourth grade teacher Mrs. Cotter brought the German tradition to our very traditionally German school. The cone-shaped gifts (Schultuete literally means "school cone") that each first-grade student receives are filled with candy, toys and stuffed animals, which are all meant to sweeten the formal educational experience and let them know they're "big kids" now.

So that's the latest on our youngest villagers. Decked out and ready to learn in their school uniforms, there can be no finer classroom than the historic streets, parks and structures of German Village. If you're longing for that "back-to-school" nostalgia, reach out and get involved. German Village will be better for it.

Jody Graichen is director of historic preservation programs for the German Village Society.