Annually, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) kicks off the new school year with its Back-to-School Bash to not only prepare its students for the first day, but also connect them with valuable resources to assist them year-long.
The event presents an opportunity for APS to reinforce the district’s commitment to building connections, confidence, and wellness for the whole child, as well as providing the resources needed to close achievement gaps.
This year’s effort was a great success as a sea of several thousand students and their families descended upon the Georgia World Congress Center on July 22 to receive free backpacks, school supplies, and haircuts.
The excitement could be felt as the Marching Panthers of Carver Early College High School kicked off the event by leading the attendees into the venue and to the stage for an exhilarating welcome by Back-to-School Bash veteran host Ronnel Blackmon of More Than Me, LLC.
Blackmon, now in his fifth year hosting Bash, enjoyed witnessing the tremendous outpour of support from the public.
“It’s a true community of Atlanta celebrating education,” Blackmon said.
Boasting an impressive 200 exhibitors consisting of community, educational and healthcare organizations, the Back-to-School Bash provided something for everyone, including informational handouts, resources, games and giveaways.
“As a principal and a staff member of APS, this event is what it’s all about,” Authur Washington, principal of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate High School said. “This year we went above and beyond for our families and all of our stakeholders. This is what the real Atlanta is about. We are a true village.”
Many APS schools and departmental representatives were on hand to assist in registering students for the upcoming year and share with parents how they are committed to upholding the APS5 in order to achieve equity for each scholar.
“The Back-to-School Bash is perfect for us to get a chance to meet the teachers at the school my daughter is going to,” Atlanta Public Schools parent, Vincent Vaughn said. “It’s a good chance to see what’s going to be on the lunch menu and just have an idea of what to expect in the school year coming ahead.”
Importantly, the Back-to-School Bash is a fun and cool experience. It’s a chance for students to get excited about school and physically see the dedication and support they can expect to receive from APS.
Part of the day’s enjoyment was attributed to Blackmon’s high energy which, in part, he credits to an APS principal who stressed the importance of making education and learning fun.
“I feel like all areas surrounding [education] should be exciting,” Blackmon said. “It should be engaging. It should be authentic from the student’s perspective, but also from the teacher’s and the parent’s perspective.”
From the entertainment, career fair, health screenings, and vision screenings, to information surrounding financial literacy assistance, the Back-to-School Bash provided something for every everyone.
Check out these great highlights from this year’s event, including a video recap of the day’s festivities.
Major Impact — Over 35 corporations and non-profits were celebrated and honored at the Back-to-School Bash’s Second Annual VIP Breakfast for their commitment and dedication to the students and families of APS. Among them were this year’s key sponsors: Mercedes Benz USA, Aetna, Amazon, Southwire, Comcast, Grady, Georgia Natural Gas, Microsoft, Equitable and Verizon.
The support of sponsors and donors give APS the ability, through events like the Back-to-School Bash, to be fiscally responsible in the investments they make on behalf of their students.
Additionally under the APS “Adopt a School” initiative, Chick-fil-A, Inc. announced their gift of adopting the APS South Atlanta cluster of schools, and the principals from Humphries Elementary School and Dunbar Elementary School were each surprised with checks for $50,000 by Norfolk Southern.
The program was created to pair schools with corporate donors that can assist in meeting their most pressing needs with in-kind support and monetary donations.
“Our corporate partners are indispensable to the vitality of our programs,” said Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring. “These public-private partnerships have been instrumental in our ability to meet the needs of individual schools including providing increased funding for early childhood, career and college readiness programs. We are thrilled to bring our partners together and salute them for their unwavering commitment to scholars, families and the Atlanta community.”
Memorable Moment — Back-to-School Bash attendees were surprised to be greeted by Atlanta Mayor, Andre Dickens, who assisted APS students with picking out their bookbag for the first day of school.
In addition, many local celebrities and heroes including television and radio personality Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan, who was joined by The Big Tigger Morning Show Crew, came out to interact with the students and their families. Harry the Hawk, mascot of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and Freddie the Falcon, mascot of the Atlanta Falcons football team, both showed their Atlanta spirit and took pictures with APS scholars.