During the March Special Council presentations, Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough opened her presentation by welcoming the first graders of First United Methodist Christian School (FUMCS) and their parents. “It’s so exciting to see a packed chamber — especially a chamber packed with children, [along with] their parents.”
Annually, the first graders at FUMCS read “Roxaboxen,” a well-known book written by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. The book, which celebrates the imagination of children who, no matter the time or place, can create whole worlds out of what they find around them — in this case, rocks and boxes — also creates a unique opportunity for the students to learn about what makes a community a community.
Councilwoman Fairclough explained, “They worked on creating their own town, complete with amenities and essential services that all good communities should have. I always welcome them to City Hall — their own town hall — so they can showcase the businesses that they’ve worked with their parents to build.” She called Julie Kenney forward, one of First United Methodist’s two first grade teachers, to talk about the school’s annual Roxaboxen project.
Kennedy explained, “I’ve been working with this [Roxaboxen] event for about seven years. Each year, it keeps getting better with all of the parents and all of the hard work they put in [helping the children understand] communities. They learn about citizenship, hard workers in the community and voting,” noting that the students even got to vote for their own mayor.
The students’ visit to the Council Chambers represented the culmination of their creative community-building project. “This is a great way to end it all today,” said Kenney, who invited Roxaboxen Mayor Lilly Watson to the front of the room.
After Mayor Watson graciously thanked the Homestead City Council for their hospitality, Councilwoman Fairclough told her she’d vote for her if she ever ran for office in Homestead.
Mayor Watson’s fellow students — business owners and service providers — bounded up the center aisle of the City Council Chambers, decked out in fun and colorful costumes reflecting their respective professions — from an artist in a beret, to a lawyer in a suit. Councilwoman Fairclough presented each one with a certificate of excellence for his or her contributions to Roxaboxen.
She also asked the parents present to stand. “Thank you so much for your support of your child’s education. It makes a huge difference. They’ll never forget these moments, so thank you for investing in them right now.”
Roxaboxen business creators from Mrs. Zulliya’s class included: Olivia Fleitas – Olivia’s Deal on Wheels; Lavinia Gonzalez - Lavinia’s Beauty Shop; Jackson St. Germain – Jack Attack Bait & Tackle; Giovanni Ortiz – Roxaboxen Fire Station; Aaron Nuñez – Aaron’s Animals of the World Pet Store; Madilynn Thomas – Muffin’s Pizzeria; Ramiro Acosta – R5 Theatre; Ellie Torcise – Ellie’s Sprinkle Donut House; Sergio Ortiz – D.K. Bank; Madison Tupaj – Madison’s Nature Center; Sophia Fanfan – Church of Love; Isabella Menendez – Isabella’s Heavenly Christian Library; Boone Sapp – Buff Bodies by Booninator; Mia Scott – Mia’s Nursery; Amelia Garrido – Amelia’s Flower Boutique; Miguel Salabarria – Miguel’s Recruiting Center; Jose Romero – Romero Law Office; Emilio Vendetta – Roxaboxen International Airport; Victoria Sifuentes – Victoria’s Candy Shop; and Dylan Monsalve – Dylan’s Community Hospital.
Roxaboxen business creators from Mrs. Kennedy’s class included: Kylie Allende – Kylie’s One Stop Soup Shop; Anthony Alonso – Anthony’s Train Station; Addison Carter – Addie’s Sunshine Day Care; Kyle Chester – Pet Care; Noelle Douger – Noelle’s Christian School; Jordan Ellenburg – Captain Hooks; Kayla Healy – Kay Kay’s Sweet Shop; Ray Healey – Town Hall; Ava Lugo – Ava’s Art Gallery; Josh Lyons – “Josh Is Over Here” Fruit Stand; Jayden MacFarland – Jayden’s Super Toys; Matthew Mancha – Jail House; Weston Moehling – Weston’s Hardware Store; Riley Montgomery – Riley’s Power and Light; Alyssa Owen – Alyssa’s Donut Hole; Justin Reddick – “Just In” Weather; Devan Paul – Games Are Us; Oceanna Rengifo – Oceanna’s Groovy Sugar Shack; Zoey Rickmond – Zoey’s Love for Lollies; Evvy Robles – Evvy’s Honey Hive; Lucas Silva - Roxaboxen Airport; Noah Soto – Dragon’s Den; Kayla Sweet – Kayla’s Swirly Wirly Ice Cream; Isabella Valencia – Isabella’s Smiles; and Lily Watson – Mayor.