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Parents enjoy benefits of raising kids in a college town

By Mackenzie Rossero, For The Miami Student

While Miami University is the epicenter of Oxford, students share the quaint little town with residents who have raised their families on the brick-laden streets.

According to U.S. census data, Miami students make up nearly half of Oxford's 22,000 population. The other half are the Oxford residents and their children who live and work here year round. And, according to some of these residents, it's the tight-knit community atmosphere that makes them stay put.

"[Oxford] is a great town for raising kids," Miami professor Jonathan Bradshaw said. "There is a whole community of things for kids and adults outside the university."

On weekends, Uptown Park is full of Oxford residents. While much of the town's student population sleeps in late, Oxford residents emerge in the mornings with their toddlers in strollers and dogs on leashes.

On Saturdays during the fall, many of these families frequent the Sprouts activity tables at the weekly Farmer's Market, one of many activities in Oxford geared toward families with children.

Last Friday, many families visited the UniDiversity Latin American and Caribbean Festival in Uptown Park and the Miami Homecoming festivities on Slantwalk.

"It's a really fun atmosphere," said Joy Becker, mother of two. "We love having kids here. There is a big community for particularly young families. It has a small-town feel yet there is a lot to do."

Justin Beckner, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Talawanda Middle School, has lived in Oxford all his life.

"I like the closeness of the town and how everybody contributes and helps out if you need something," Beckner said.

Nancy Hawthorne, head of the McGuffey Montessori School and Miami alumna, agreed that the wealth of activities available for families makes Oxford a good place to raise children.

"There are a lot of ongoing programs and annual events for families to get involved in," Hawthorne said. "There are so many activities that Miami sponsors that our students and families participate in."

Originally named McGuffey Foundation School, the McGuffey Montessori School was founded in 1983 by Miami staff and parents after the closing of the Miami University Lab School.

It is a private school currently educating students from preschool to eighth grade, many of which are children of Miami faculty. The school aims to focus on hands-on experiences, interactions with the community and extensive field trips.

Raising a family in the bar-heavy college town can be difficult at times, Oxford residents say, but most still speak positively of their experiences.

"[The college nightlife] does make some things challenging. It provokes some conversation about responsible behavior, but we use it for good," Hawthorne said. "The benefits of living in Oxford far outweigh the downsides."

Oxford resident Christine Kelly said that noisy nights Uptown did not come as a surprise to her.

"You know what to expect," Kelly said, who has two daughters: Lauren, 9, and Elizabeth, 12. "It comes with the territory."

"[The students] bring the town to life," Beckner said.

With many residents living in close proximity to Uptown, young teenagers have the opportunity to have a taste of the college lifestyle.

"This year is her first year where she can walk Uptown with her friends and it is lovely to give her that independence," Hawthorne said of her 13-year-old daughter.

Hawthorne is unsure if her daughter will consider attending Miami in the future, since she would be among the 2.7 percent of Miami students who are permanent Oxford residents, but she is hopeful.

"I went to Miami and my dream was to move back to Oxford to raise a family," Hawthorne said. "I love it."