UPPER MARLBORO – As summer comes to an end, another school year is set to begin. As a way to welcome back both students and parents, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) put on the sixth annual Back-to-School Fair inside The Show Place Arena on Aug. 6. Representatives from different county agencies and school officials […]
UPPER MARLBORO – As summer comes to an end, another school year is set to begin.
As a way to welcome back both students and parents, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) put on the sixth annual Back-to-School Fair inside The Show Place Arena on Aug. 6.
Representatives from different county agencies and school officials were on site to inform those in attendance about school matters such as transportation, enrichment programs and school policies. Nearly 100 different vendors and businesses joined in partnership to promote their services that provide academic and social assistance for families. Booths were set up throughout the arena that included brochures and other handouts for those seeking additional information.
The supportive services available at the fair proved to be of great value for families as an esitmated 4,000 people showed up at the event, according to PGCPS Community Outreach Specialist Birgitt Brevard.
“We are such a large county and we have much to offer. We are not turning away anyone,” Brevard said. “One of the fair’s main goals is to reach as many families as possible so they can become knowledgeable and equipped with the tools needed for career success.
“This is a welcome back-to-school (event) for everyone. We want to help families in the learning process and so we make sure to include them in activities.”
PGCPS is aware that parent and guardian involvement in their child’s academic journey is crucial, so the fair also served as a way to inform families about the Family Institute. The program is the first of its kind and is designed to guide and teach parents and guardians on how to facilitate academic growth in their child. The workshops will run in sessions and will be broken down into strands as follows: Strand 1: Family Empowerment; Strand II: 21st Century Learners; and Strand III: Health and Wellness.
Community and Engagement Specialist Desann Manzano-Lee said the Family Institute will forge positive relations among parents, students and educators.
“(The Family Institute) will help increase parents’ engagement and participation. The workshops are learning sessions for parents or guardians to become educated on the best practices to help their child succeed academically. The program will also help parents with personal concerns they may have of their own,” Manzano-Lee said.
The official kick-off date of the Family Institute is Sept. 10 at Charles H. Flowers High School. All of the workshops are free and childcare will be provided.
Another key facet of the fair was student health. Immunizations were available for students in need of vaccinations. The Maryland Partnership for Prevention and PGCPS Health Services provided free vaccinations to incoming kindergarten, seventh and ninth grade students. Approximately 177 students signed up for vaccination services and even more were expected to receive shots.
Executive Director of Student Services Adrian Talley believes vaccinations are an important step toward disease prevention and caregivers should be advised of the rules in order to enroll in school.
“Vaccinations are important because they protect against diseases and other illness. Our goal is to ensure that every county student is vaccinated so they do not miss out on school,” Talley said.
Talley also noted parents should be mindful of the looming deadline to get their child vaccinated.
“We just want to remind parents that no shots, no school,” Talley said.
The deadline for county students to be up-to-date on vaccinations is Aug. 23.
When families arrived at the fair, they received one ticket per child. In order to snag a free backpack, families had to first visit a school representative, an office and vendor, and have each sign their initials on the ticket. Individuals had to present the ticket at the Backpack Giveaway Station where backpacks were handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
These types of school supplies were supplements for the essentials needed for students to perform in school. For Elena Alm, a parent who has three children, the fair allowed her to pick up extra notebooks. Alm is new to the area and said the fair was an opportunity to connect with other parents as well.
“It’s really fun and I enjoy meeting and talking to other people. I picked up a couple of notebooks so it helps with saving. This is my first time at this event and it gives me a chance to talk to others about school. I plan to come back next year,” Alm said.
For others, the fair was a reflection of PGCPS as a whole and how it caters to its students and parents. Shirley Mentis, a South America native, came out to the fair in support of her grandchildren and believes the event offered valuable information and tools to community members who may be less fortunate.
“The back-to-school fair is excellent because they are providing assistance to families who really need it,” Mentis said.
She pointed out the large crowd of people who came out and noted the fair’s ability to maintain structure.
“It is very well-organized and the (volunteers) tell you where you need to go and can assist you with whatever you need. They have very good things to offer to the community,” Mentis said.
Hundreds of volunteers, including a few members of the county’s board of education, were on hand to answer any questions or concerns. Vice Chair of the board of education and District 6 member, Carolyn Boston was pleased with the successful turnout and praised the staff’s hard work and efforts in coordinating.
“The school system and community staff are doing an awesome job with putting on today’s event,” Boston said. “I come out each year to support the fair. It is a wonderful opportunity for families to interact with school officials. I think it’s great for educators and parents to come together.”
The first day of school for county students is Aug. 23.