Well over 1,000 students from Michigan City schools and their families made their way to Elston’s Gill Field today for the annual Citywide Back-To-School Rally. Now in its ninth year at that location, the long-running event aimed to make sure that area students were well-prepared for the coming school year and featured free food and activities including a bean bag toss, 50-yard dash and more.
The event - sponsored by numerous local community agencies and businesses, including American Licorice, Anthem, Comcast, Dunes Optical, Franciscan Physicians Network, Kabelin Ace Hardware, McDonald’s, MDWise, Meijer, the Michigan City Commission on the Social Status of African American Males, Servpro, and Weil-McLain - also offered free lead screenings, free haircuts for students and even provided students with backpacks loaded with a variety of school supplies, everything from paper to pencils, rulers, markers, calculators and more.
Scott Pelath, state representative, who has represented Michigan City since 1998 says that the rally not only helps students to be prepared as they go back to school, but also helps to build enthusiasm for the coming school season.
“The Back-to-School rally has really become a spectacular tradition, and I’ve had the privilege to volunteer here for a number of years now. You see a lot of happy faces, enthusiastic smiles, kids getting ready to learn. It’s a time of great optimism for students and their families,” said Pelath.
“School supplies, just the basic needs to send a child back to school, can be very expensive for many families,” said Pelath. “Thanks to the help from a lot of volunteers and sponsors, we are able to see that these students are able to start school on a solid footing, with all the necessary supplies. We just want to make sure that every child is ready to hit the ground running when those doors open in a few days.”
One exciting change coming to the Michigan City High School this year is the addition of Chromebooks - laptops which run Google’s Chrome operating system and are designed to work mostly with cloud-based application - which will be issued to each student entering grades 9-12.
“This year, each high school student will be issued a Chromebook to be used as part of their curriculum,” said Jeremy Lugbill, Associate Principal at Michigan City High School. “They will be allowed to take that Chromebook home with them each night, and will be expected to bring it back to school with them in the morning, charged and ready to go.”
This was made possible through the cooperation of the community, the city council and educators who voted in support of the program to provide each high school student with that technology.
Betsy Kohn, Director of Communications for Michigan City area schools is grateful for the support the schools see from the community.
“Michigan City schools play a key role in this event, but it would not be possible without the support of the community and those businesses, churches and organizations which come together to make this happen,” said Kohn. “We have some very generous donors who donate backpacks, supplies and more. That, along with the collection boxes which you may have seen across the area, where shoppers donated supplies as well.”
“We have close to 1,900 backpacks here today. Even if we don’t hand all those out today, we will distribute the rest to various other schools in the area, to be used and given out to needy students throughout the school year,” said Kohn, who also wanted to remind families that the new school year is just around the corner.
“It’s time to make sure you’re registered, make sure you have all your supplies. Even headphones or earbuds, depending on your grade level. These are required supplies this year, because technology has advanced rapidly to include media-based curriculum, so these items are now as necessary as paper and pencils.”
Stephanie, an Iowa native who says she and her family moved to Michigan City four years ago due to better job opportunities in the region, brought her three daughters to the rally: Kailei - 15, Adrianna - 17 and Gillian - 11. She says this is her second year coming to the event.
“This is a great help. Especially for families with multiple children, it takes off a huge financial burden as far as school supplies. You also get to see what other resources are available here in the community, and you even get a chance to see and meet with some of the teachers who will be interacting with your children during the school year,” said Stephanie.
“It’s fun!” said daughter Kailei. “You get to see some of your friends before school starts. It’s nice to get back together.”
Just as a reminder: Michigan City HS freshman orientation is next Wednesday, August 15, with the first regular day of school the following day.
For more information, visit the Michigan City Area Schools online at https://www.mcas.k12.in.us/