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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