Representatives from a multitude of Arlington organizations announced Thursday that together they will host the inaugural AISD Back to School Kickoff on Sat., Aug. 15, 2015 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The event will help 15,000 Arlington ISD students and their families get the supplies and resources they need to be ready for the 2015- 2016 academic year.
The AISD Back to School Kickoff event will be hosted by the Arlington Independent School District and co-hosted by the Arlington NAACP, Junior League of Arlington, Churches of Arlington, The Gene and Jerry Jones Family North Texas Youth Education Town, and the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Arlington Youth Foundation. The collaboration is intended to maximize each organization’s resources in order to reach the most students in need.
“We believe that an engaged community is essential. With nearly 70 percent of our students being economically disadvantaged, this partnership will allow thousands of them to receive a backpack and needed school supplies prior to the start of school,” said AISD superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos. “Removing barriers for our students and families is key to ensuring a successful year and future for our students.”
At the AISD Back to School Kickoff, which will be held from 8:00 a.m. to noon on the west outdoor plaza and indoor platform of AT&T Stadium, pre-registered students will receive a backpack filled with school supplies appropriate to their grade level, as well as the opportunity to visit a variety of resource booths. Booths will include an immunization station, vision checks, eyeglasses fittings, information on after-school care programs and more.
Students and parents will also be encouraged to attend workshops led by the Arlington NAACP. Workshop topics will include college readiness, testing tips and more. Those who attend will be eligible for exclusive prizes.
“We want students and parents to understand that student success is a team effort between their child’s school and families. Therefore, in addition to providing students with school supplies, we are offering workshops geared toward parents and some aimed at students at which they can learn more about very important topics such as: STAAR Testing standards, policies and rankings, literacy, in addition to student and parent responsibilities,” said Alisa Simmons, president of Arlington NAACP.
Additionally, AISD Back to School Kickoff attendees can expect to see appearances by Dallas Cowboys mascot Rowdy, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and former Dallas Cowboys players. In addition to the donation of AT&T Stadium as the event’s venue, the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Arlington Youth Foundation donated a $50,000 grant to go towards the initiative.
“We are honored to be part of a powerful collaboration that will make such a widespread impact on the Arlington community,” said Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer Charlotte Jones Anderson. “It is so inspiring when organizations come together and combine their strengths, assets and resources to make an even bigger difference than we could by working on our own.”
To be eligible to attend the AISD Back to School Kickoff, students must qualify for the free or reduced-price meal program. Parents are required to pre-register their students by visiting www.aisd.net/kickoff. Transportation is available for pre-registered attendees and should be requested via the online registration form.
Arlington community members and supporters may donate to the AISD Back to School Kickoff by visiting the event website, www.aisd.net/kickoff. A donation of $20 provides one student with a backpack and the supplies he or she needs for a full school year. Churches of Arlington, a coalition of churches that serve the Arlington community, and their congregations are driving the fundraising effort.
“One of the great delights of this process is to watch the churches of Arlington band together for something significant. While all of us have been doing a lot individually, I am excited to see what we are able to do together. We believe that education is so important to the future of our city; therefore, we are grateful to play a part in providing the supplies needed for these kids’ success,” said Gary Smith, senior pastor of Fielder Church in Arlington.
The Junior League of Arlington, with its more than 500 members, will play a key role in providing volunteer manpower for the AISD Back to School Kickoff event.
“Volunteers bring smiling faces and open hearts to every cause, which helps to provide dignity where there may be little, and hope where it may be lost. They are the uniting force for executing meaningful and impactful community events. As a volunteer training organization, Junior League of Arlington members are dedicated to creating positive change within the local community and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to impact so many families with this event,” said incoming Junior League of Arlington president Emily Swanson.
To learn more about the AISD Back to School Kickoff, including updates on participating vendors and how to get involved, visit www.aisd.net/kickoff.