Countdown to Beechcroft, a parent-driven community organization that seeks to support and advocate for the elementary and middle schools in the feeder pattern for Beechcroft High, has been active in recent months but there are plans to ramp that up, according to founder Leila Ba.

Countdown to Beechcroft, a parent-driven community organization that seeks to support and advocate for the elementary and middle schools in the feeder pattern for Beechcroft High, has been active in recent months but there are plans to ramp that up, according to founder Leila Ba.

To that end, Ba announced plans recently to raise $6,000 to pay for educational activities "that will prevent summer drain."

Such events might include outdoor screenings of movies based on books Northland-area schoolchildren have read in class, a visit to COSI, puppet shows or a field trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Countdown to Beechcroft members have so far paid visits to Devonshire and Alpine elementary schools, and to Ecole Kenwood in the Sharon Woods neighborhood, Ba said. More trips like this are planned, as is attendance at elementary and middle school sporting events.

"That's been a good way to get our message out, get the word out about what we're trying to do," she said. "The volunteers are not where I want them to be. There's still a lot of work that I'm doing, but I'm hoping that will change in the next year or so."

Having support from parents and community residents is vital to public education, according to Tawanna O. Williams, leadership intern at Alpine Elementary School.

"With schools being built in neighborhoods, we need communities on our side," Williams said.

She added that Alpine staff members and teachers have welcomed Countdown to Beechcroft members on visits, adding that these help not only new parents but also older people whose children have long since graduated become connected with their neighborhood school.

That, in turn, is good for the neighborhoods, Williams believes.

"Having an organization that's behind our schools brings back what schools should be," she said. "When you have a community that cares about schools, that cares about what students are doing in the schools, people stay.

"When we lose that, that's when we see people moving out of communities."