Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

First Day of School Events Engage Communities in Supporting Education

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

First Day of School Events Engage Communities in Supporting Education

Article excerpt

As children and youth returned to school this past month, elected officials in cities and towns across the country supported First Day of School festivals for students and parents. These events are designed to engage the entire community in supporting education and prepare students for the new school year.

Whether that means providing school supplies, making sure registrations and immunizations are in order or simply boosting morale, these back-to-school events are helping students start the school year on the fight foot.

Gainesville, Fla.

This past summer, the City of Gainesville sponsored the free Back to School Extravaganza for Alachua County students at a local recreation center. In partnership with the Mayor's Office and the Police Department, the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department organized the event, which drew nearly 1,000 students and parents.

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"We made sure we are providing a few quality, special events primarily targeted for our teens--in this case a summer pool party that took on a broader back-to-school awareness," said Michelle Park, assistant director of the department.

The event included a basketball game between a high school girls' team and a police department team, as well as a swimming competition with teams representing the mayor's office and the police department, including Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and local high school students.

With support from local faith groups and businesses, city and community partners donated clothing, backpacks and school supplies for students attending the event.

Nashville, Tenn.

In August, Mayor Karl Dean hosted the 10th annual Mayor's First Day Festival, celebrating the start of the new school year with schools and families. The festival attracts more than 20,000 people annually, providing them with educational activities, live musical performances and other entertainment and free school supplies each year. …

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