School year set to begin Monday for some students

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    Summertime leisure is coming to an end for some Chicago Public Schools students.

    Summertime leisure is coming to

    an end for some Chicago Public

    Schools students.

    As the school district’s Track Eyear

    round – schools get set to start

    the new school year Monday, school

    and city leaders, as well as community

    organizations, are sounding the

    bell, encouraging students to prepare

    to attend the first day and every

    day of school.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the

    public schools CEO Jean-Claude

    Brizard pounded the pavement

    Tuesday in a door-to-door campaign

    in the Auburn-Gresham community

    where they reminded parents and

    students about the first day of


    This school year marks the first

    for Emanuel as mayor, and for

    Brizard as the new head of CPS. But

    the city’s push for first day of school

    attendance has become an annual


    ôExcellence in education starts

    with excellent attendance,ö

    Emanuel said Tuesday.

    His office explained that the back

    to school stumping was part of a

    ôcomprehensive … campaign to promote

    strong attendance habitsö during

    the upcoming school year.

    ôThose kids who missed the first

    day of school when I was a teacher

    always struggled to catch up,ö

    Brizard said at a press conference

    during the door-to-door event


    Emanuel said the private business

    community has embraced the

    school district’s efforts through

    ôgenerousö donations.

    Walmart Stores Inc. gave $25,000

    for the door-to-door campaign.

    Clear Channel Communications

    Inc. has pledged to help get the message

    out about back-to-school

    through in-kind marketing. Target

    Corp. will give $3,000 to the school

    in a high truancy area that has the

    highest first-week attendance.

    Harris Bank has signed on with a

    $12,000 sponsorship for a back-toschool

    rally. The company that

    helps provide school lunches for the

    city’s public schools, Chartwells-

    Thompson Hospitality, is set to give

    $45,000 to purchase school supplies,

    the mayor’s office reported.

    ôThis is a shared goal for all of

    Chicago and I am heartened by

    Chicagoans’ commitment to making

    this important investment in

    Chicago’s future,ö Emanuel said of

    the corporate donations.

    Aside from the mayor and the

    school superintendent, a number of

    organizations have already hosted

    or plan to host back to school


    The Salvation Army gave away

    hundreds of backpacks and other

    supplies during its July 23 back to

    school event at Cooper Park in the

    West Pullman community. Prevent

    Blindness America announced last

    month that it declared August to be

    Children’s Eye Health and Safety

    Awareness Month and urges parents

    to get eye screenings in preparation

    for the new school year. The organization

    says free resources are available

    at, or by calling

    (800) 331-2020.

    Additionally, Mercy Hospital will

    be offering free back to school

    physicals Aug. 13 at the hospital,

    2525 S. Michigan Ave., from 9 a.m.

    to 1 p.m. – no appointment needed.

    For more information call (312)


    Saturday, two of the city’s prominent

    community organizations will

    host back to school events. The

    Chicago Urban League will have

    music, games, karaoke and access

    to free health screenings at its event,

    which will be held at its headquarters,

    4510 S. Michigan Ave. from 10

    a.m. to 3 p.m. The Urban League’s

    CEO is also a member of the

    Chicago Board of Education.

    ôAttendance is the first step to

    student achievement. It is imperative

    that we support and encourage

    our student to become life-long

    learners so they can compete successfully

    in a global economy,ö said

    Adrea Zopp, head of the Urban

    League and a newly-appointed

    member of the school board.

    A little further east of the Urban

    League, Rev. Jesse Jackson and his

    Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s PUSH

    for Excellence program will host a

    back to school rally that focuses on

    parental involvement.

    ôParents are children’s first

    teacher,ö Jackson said. ôThis year

    we are taking particular focus on

    engaging parents and encouraging

    them to take an active role in their

    children’s academic success.ö

    Further, the organization will

    look to have 50,000 parents by Dec.

    31 sign a pledge supporting their

    children in getting an education.

    Participants at the Rainbow

    PUSH event, to be held at the organization’s

    headquarters, 950 E. 51st

    St., will receive backpacks and

    school supplies.

    School starts Sept. 6 for public

    schools operating on the traditional school calendar.

    Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender


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