Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard today opened the 2011-12 school year for CPS students who attend Track E schools with a ceremonial bell-ringing at William Rainey Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood St.
Brizard was joined for the bell-ringing by Alderman Tony Foulkes, Police Commander Anthony Carothers, the Rev. Johnny Banks, Harper Principal Leonetta Sanders, and Harper staff and students. Radio station WGCI broadcast live from the school. Watch the video here.
"Instruction begins on the first day of school and we need every student in class from day one so that they do not fall behind," said CEO Brizard. "I know from personal experience as a teacher and a principal that the time spent in the classroom on the first day sets the tone and culture for the rest of the school year and increases a student’s chance for success."
For the past two weeks, CPS engaged in a comprehensive back to school campaign to educate all Chicagoans on the importance of first day and every day attendance. The multi-faceted campaign has included door-to-door visits by Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to emphasize the start dates of CPS schools.
The campaign, which continues through the beginning of regular track schools, includes the support of corporate sponsors such as Wal-mart Stores Inc., Clear Channel Communications Inc., Target Corp., BMO Harris Bank and Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality.
Other corporate sponsors of CPS's back-to-school efforts include Fleishman-Hillard, Peoples Gas, Comcast, Discover, HMH Foundation, Loop Capital, PNC Bank, Bank of America, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Foundation, the Chicago Tribune Foundation, The Museum of Science and Industry and Loop Capital.
Last week, Chicago Public Schools and Groupon’s G-team partnered on an offer that allowed Chicagoans to purchase school supply kits for CPS low-income students. The Kits for Kidz campaign was available for three days and Chicagoans pledged over $15,000 for over 1,200 kits – more money was raised through this effort with Groupon’s G-Team than any other campaign in any other city. These kits are a vital part of helping our students get ready for school on the first day.
CPS is also working with the faith community and local organizations throughout the city in building awareness and support for first day and every day attendance.
CPS this year is placing a special emphasis to target the city's areas with the highest truancy rates. These areas are Englewood, Humboldt Park, East Garfield, West Garfield, North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Austin.
CPS is utilizing grassroots activities, advertising, and social media strategies, including: door-to-door outreach, robo-calls to households of CPS students, targeted literature drops at CTA stations, bus stations and neighborhood festivals, phone bank calls targeting parents, a CTA ad campaign, text messages and e-mail notifications and Google and Facebook ads.
Because the start of the regular track calendar schools is still almost a month away, Brizard said the efforts stressing first day attendance will continue.
"Our campaign this year recognizes that everyone has a role in helping Chicago's children succeed. They are our city’s future," he said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer for a phone bank shift for the back to school campaign, can visit the CPS Back to School Page or call (773)553-3277.