A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lexington community comes together to tell school children all are 'preparing for success'


Back-to-school rallies were held all over Lexington on Saturday, Aug. 2, and students were given backpacks equipped with school supplies for the start of the new school year. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

Back-to-school rallies were held all over Lexington on Saturday, Aug. 2, and students were given backpacks equipped with school supplies for the start of the new school year. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

 
By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward
 
Crisp spiral notebooks, packs of yellow pencils, unopened glue sticks – all are signs that the school bell will soon ring in the 2014-15 academic year. “I know it’s time to go back to school when I see kids this excited,” Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said Saturday, Aug. 2, at a “Preparing for Success” rally. “We look forward to seeing you this fall and having you back in school. We know great things will happen,” he told youngsters gathered at Douglass Park.
 
At 18 sites across Lexington, neighborhoods came together to offer fun activities and community resources at the ninth annual Back to School Rallies. For instance, PTA members from Booker T. Washington Intermediate Academy connected with families, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness handed out brochures at Douglass Park, while downtown churches donated toothbrushes and toothpaste for the Coolivan Park rally. The YMCA of Central Kentucky, one of the event sponsors, also distributed free books for students at each site. Meanwhile, families enjoyed hot dogs and face time with teachers, school district officials and other supporters.
 

   (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

(Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

“The most important thing is to let the kids see our school as a part of their everyday lives and community,” said Tammie Franks, principal at Harrison Elementary, who helped organize the Coolivan activities on East Sixth Street. “It’s a great way to remind them we’re all looking out for them.”
 
YMCA president and CEO David Martorano echoed that sentiment, saying, “Today is about building bridges with our community.”
 
Through the Back to School Rallies, those bridges are built largely with crayons, loose-leaf paper and colorful binders. Having a drawstring bag full of basic supplies can mean the world to a child whose family cannot afford to shop for classroom essentials. “For many children, it gives them confidence that they start school like everyone else,” Franks said.
 

(Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

(Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

Passport Health Plan, a nonprofit, community-based group that handles Medicaid benefits, stepped up this year as the rallies’ main sponsor since its mission is to improve health and quality of life.
 
“We know that a healthy child makes for a better student,” said communications director Michael Rabkin, “and a student with supplies is more likely to do well in school and stay in school.”
 
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Earlier in the week, community and corporate volunteers sorted and bagged school supplies from Kits for Kidz. Other supporters included Kentucky Utilities, the Fayette Education Foundation and Fayette County Public Schools.
 
To help with next summer’s event, contact the YMCA’s Nicola Fleming at 859-226-0393.
 

Tammy L. Lane is a media and communications specialist with the Fayette County Public Schools.


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