Northeast Ohio Parent magazine spoke with two families that live, work, go to school and play in Beachwood about daily life and what it’s like to raise a family in the community.
The Allamby Family Reflects on the Quality of Life
One young family, the Allambys, moved to Beachwood about five years ago. Native Clevelanders Kim Allamby and her husband, Carl, brought their two daughters, Kayla, 10, and Kennedy, 8, to the area from a nearby east-side suburb. Carl works as resident physician at a local hospital, and Kim is a physical therapist at a nearby nursing home.
The couple’s children attend Hilltop Elementary School. Kayla is in fifth grade, plays violin and is involved in diversity club. She enjoys reading, math and science. Kennedy is in third grade and takes piano lessons. Her favorite subject is math. She is involved in an after school math program, the diversity club and a coding for girls club. Both girls are involved in gymnastics and junior cheerleading. They also both started taking skiing lessons this year at Boston Mills.
As far as life in Beachwood, Kim Allamby talked about the quality of the education, the value of spending time in the city parks and the importance of cultural diversity.
“What attracted us was the school system,” Allamby says. “There were a lot of things that attracted us, but the schools had to be the biggest draw.”
She shared that the community has low taxes, plenty of business opportunities and recreational activities.
“It feels like this is a community that draws families with children,” she says. “I do believe it’s because of the school system. It is somewhat affluent, but still affordable, so you have a variety of homes to choose from. People are upwardly mobile here…So, the focus is education and safety. I think it draws people who want a safe environment to bring up their kids.”
“Then, the other part is everybody is involved,” she adds. “It’s such a small community, at least with school-age children, that it almost feels like a large extended family. Everybody in this area supports the schools. So, if there’s a play your kid is in, or the orchestra, or ‘Honkin Haulin Hands-On Trucks,’ an annual event in the fall, where you can see the service vehicles, you’ll see all the same people there. So, just the fact that it’s small and interconnected, it’s like extended family. I really like that about Beachwood.”
At Honkin Haulin Hands-On Trucks, guests can see the fire trucks, ambulances and snow plows up close. Kids can climb inside the trucks and meet the people who drive the trucks.
“Once you get here, you realize what a well-run city it is,” Allamby says. “I didn’t even know about that. I knew Beachwood was well taken care of, because of the streets, homes and things like that, but the services here are amazing, like how fast the snow is removed, or if a tree falls, it’s immediately addressed. Some of those things are appealing, but you don’t always know about those kinds of things until you get settled into a community.”
Embracing Cultural Diversity
Living in Beachwood, Allamby says her family has been exposed to cultural diversity, including people from different ethnic backgrounds and religions.
“When we go to school, it’s really refreshing, because my daughter will say, ‘That’s my friend; she’s from Pakistan,’ or ‘That’s my friend; she’s from China,” Allamby says. There are a lot of kids that come to the school, and they don’t know a lot of English when they first start. Then, my daughters will say, ‘I learned Chinese today from my friend.’ I think that’s exciting…My kids are experiencing different cultures, and so are the other children.”
She says cultural diversity is something that has been celebrated at school. Her family has experienced it at the primary and elementary school levels in an informative, relaxed and fun way.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s any big deal if someone is from another place — it almost feels like the norm,” she says. “The schools try to help families embrace their diversity.”
The Beachwood PTO hosts the annual, district-wide Bison Feast and Fest event where the students, parents and staff have an opportunity to celebrate a culturally diverse school community
“One of my favorite events to go to every year is the Bison Feast and Fest,” Allamby says. “Attendees get exposure to different kinds of foods: Russian, Indian and Italian. They also get to experience performances such as traditional Indian dance, and the kids who perform are amazing.”
Parks, Outdoors & Camps
One thing the Allamby family enjoys on the weekends or in their free time is going on a bike ride or a walk to the park. On a typical trip to the park, the family starts just west of Richmond, near the pavilion, and heads east, past Barkwood Dog Park and into Pepper Pike and back.
“We often like to go up there and ride our bikes, or walk. Sometimes, we will walk the paths, because they are paved, smooth paths, and they just added a dog park, Barkwood Dog Park,” Allamby says.
Local families regularly frequent Beachwood City Park East or Beachwood City Park West. Many families also enjoy Preston’s H.O.P.E. Playground Park, which is the first fully accessible playground park of its kind in Northeast Ohio.
Also, there are a lot of annual events the Allamby family doesn’t miss, such as the Beachwood Fall Festival, which is open to all communities, not just Beachwood. Held in Beachwood City Hall Parking Lot, the event features a variety of family-friendly activities, including a pumpkin patch, live entertainment, a ninja obstacle course, games, inflatables and much more.
During the winter months, everyone in the family enjoys skiing together, and Kim and her daughters enjoy belly dancing together as part of a mother-daughter belly dancing group that meets on Friday nights.
Kayla and Kennedy also attend Beachwood Theater Camp in the summer.
“The camps are fantastic,” Allamby says. “There’s a wide variety and they are right down the street. My kids have attended theater camp for the past several years. The camps are open to neighboring districts, as well.
“I love Beachwood because I feel like I’m putting our family, and especially my children, in the most fertile environment for growth, and exposure to different things,” she adds. “I think that’s the best way I can put it. As a parent, you try to bring your kids up so they can do better than you did. I feel like here, they have a lot of exposure to cultures, they have good exposure to excellent teachers who care, they have a responsive school system, and a responsive local government. There are all kinds of things that play into it. It’s walkable, safe and our neighbors care for each other.”
The Golovans Established Roots in Beachwood
Lisa and Ron Golovan have raised their family in Beachwood.
Ron is a native Clevelander. The couple knew they wanted to stay in the Cleveland area and moved to Beachwood in 1992.
“We moved specifically for the schools,” Lisa Golovan says. “We knew we wanted to send our children to a public school, if possible. We only had one child at the time. My oldest, Samantha, was 1 year old, and I was pregnant with my second child, and that’s when we moved to Beachwood.”
The family has lived in the same home for 28 years. At one point, the couple looked at the possibility of moving within Beachwood, but they decided to stay in the same place.
“We wanted to stay put in the schools, because the girls were happy and everything was going well,” Golovan says.
Three of the couple’s four children – Samantha, 28, Chase, 27, and Isabelle, 25 – have graduated from the Beachwood City School District. Their son Eric is a senior this year at Beachwood High School. He has been involved in cross country, choir, theater and National Honor Society. He will graduate in 2020 and currently is in the process of applying to colleges.
“As our family grew, one of the reasons we stayed in our home, even though it was a little tight, is because we didn’t want to pull our kids out of the school,” she says. They were settled, they were happy, and we felt strongly that they were getting a good education in Beachwood.”
Beachwood City School District is a small, close-knit school district, she says. Each of the Golovan children were involved in different activities at school. Samantha was involved in sports, was a member of the cross-country team and played softball. All three girls played softball.
Chase was involved with track and she played tennis for Beachwood. She also was involved in Excel TECC and part of the culinary program at Beachwood.
“She loved that it was housed at Beachwood, so she was able to be in Beachwood for part of the day, and then she also participated in the culinary program,” says Golovan.
Isabelle also played girls lacrosse. She was a cheerleader and a member of the drill team.
“Eric is also an Excel TECC, and he is in the Performing Arts Academy,” Golovan says. “He is at Beachwood half a day, and he goes to Chagrin Falls for the Performing Arts. So, he’s been more of our arts kid, compared to the other children.”
For about 15 years, when the girls were at Bryden Elementary School, Lisa worked in the office at Bryden and at Hilltop Elementary School. She currently holds another full-time job outside of the school district, but she remains on the substitute teachers list.
“I worked in the office for many years, and served as a substitute teacher at Beachwood Schools,” she says. “I was also very involved as a room parent. Working in the schools, I was able to connect with a lot of the staff. It’s a small school, so I got to know a lot of the families that were going through the schools at the time, but being such a small district and having such high standards, academically, socially, and in sports, I think that you’re able to communicate with who you need to – to help your kids become successful.”
If one child is having an issue, in some aspect, whether it’s emotionally, or academically, she says, it’s easy to connect with the right people, who can help your child become successful.
“If families are moving into the district with children, I would suggest joining PTO immediately, and becoming involved in the Parent Teacher Organization,” Golovan says. “There are a lot of different committees and ways to get involved with your child. From participating in different programs, or being involved in the classroom. It’s also a great way to meet other parents.”
Conveniences for Residents
“As far as being a resident, I think our services are phenomenal, from our streets to our garbage pick-up,” Golovan says. “It’s convenient, and we have easy access to so many things. From where we live, we can walk to the mall, or the grocery store, in many different directions, so that’s one of the things we love about being in this neighborhood is the convenience.”
It’s easy to get to the highways. The Golovans also like to walk, and it’s about a 10-to-15-minute walk to the mall, or a three-minute drive. Beachwood also is home to a shopping destination, Beachwood Place.
“My husband works right past downtown, in Ohio City, so it’s easy access for him to get to work,” she says. “We are accessible to freeways, the mall, the grocery store, and we also like the lower taxes. Because we have a lot of industry in Beachwood, our taxes are lower than some of the other communities nearby. And, the schools have been well-funded because of that. That’s something that has kept our schools strong, along with an excellent staff and parents that are very involved.”
Golovan says for professionals and businesspeople moving into the community, the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful way to network. The chamber hosts a number of events, including monthly luncheons, “Networking After Five” and “Beachwood Women’s Connection,” among others.
Additionally, the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library has many different programs for students, families and senior citizens. They host guest speakers and an array of ongoing programming.
In summer months, many Beachwood residents gather at the Beachwood Family Aquatic Center. The Golovans recently have enjoyed spending time at the new Barkwood Dog Park.
“All around, there are high standards and families that care about their kids and their families…We just feel like everyone has high standards in Beachwood, and that’s why we’ve stayed all of these years,” Golovan says.