I always look forward to the first Friday in June, because I get to take the day off and volunteer for Family Fun Day at the Frederick Stock School (named for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s second music director). Way up in Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood, the school is an early childhood learning center for students with and without disabilities, ages three to five. It’s an amazing place with an amazing faculty, to say the least.

The day always begins with a parade around the neighborhood. This year, former principal (and the new head of Chicago Public School’s Office of Specialized Services) Richard Smith served as the grand marshal, led by members of the Chicago Police and Fire departments and the Kelvyn Park High School marching band.

After a performance by the Stock Cheerleaders (always a highlight), the students participate in a relay race as their families cheer them on, and all finishers are awarded a medal. (I had the honor of awarding a number of medals and I can assure you that everyone finished the race!) Next are a number of different activities including running the obstacle course, having your face painted, and competing in a hula hoop contest, followed by tours of fire trucks and demonstrations by officers from the K-9 and mounted units. Finally, everyone enjoys a cookout and sing-a-long entertainment by the amazing Nelson Gill.

It’s a great way to kick off the summer.

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