WHEATON — Although students are enjoying their summer, Montgomery County is prepping for the upcoming school year with school registration events and school supply drives.
On July 13, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Head Start/Pre-Kindergarten and the Community Action Agency co-hosted a Head Start Party in the Park. The half-day event hosted in Wheaton Regional Park allowed families of future students to learn more about the programs the county offers.
Charlene Muhammad, who serves as a Head Start administrator for the Community Action Agency, said that this year’s Head Start Party in the Park took about a year-and-a-half of planning.
“It’s just been wonderful so far,” Muhammad said. “This is our first collaboration in outreach between our two organizations. In the first hour we’ve had 25 new families register for classes.”
According to the county, MCPS Pre-K/Head Start gives low-income families high-quality education. The program is meant to provide income-eligible children foundational knowledge that will prepare them for kindergarten and the rest of their academic careers.
The programs include a curriculum that is designed to be cognitively stimulating, with an emphasis on literacy and math along with science, social studies, art and music, among other subjects. The programs also encompass development of social and emotional skills.
Students can also receive health, dental, nutritional and family services as part of the initiative.
There are 111 pre-K and 34 Head Start classes located throughout the county. The classes are offered in half-day and all-day options, according to the county.
Along with registration, families could participate in face painting, receive balloon animals and find a snack or treat from food trucks stationed at the event.
Sonya Addison brought her daughter Kennedy to the Party in the Park to get her registered for the coming school year.
Addison explained that previous registration times had been inconvenient for her because of her work schedule.
“When they were doing registration earlier, I was so busy working it just never fit into the time that I needed, so this is very beneficial,” she said.
Also included in the event were sponsored food trucks and tickets to ride the carousel, which she felt made the event great for families.
Registration for Head Start and pre-K programs are ongoing.
MCPS is also preparing its students for the upcoming school year with its annual Drive for Supplies event at Argyle Middle School.
On July 15, students, families and educators attended the 20th annual Drive for Supplies event, nearly filling the school gymnasium.
According to MCPS, each summer, new and used school supplies are made available to students in need through donations.
“Students, teachers and staff donate used but reusable school supplies at the end of the school year when they clean out their lockers, book bags and desks,” acordding to MCPS . “The program not only benefits children in need but works to protect the environment by repurposing usable items that otherwise end up in landfills.”
Resident Louise Newcomer said she and her husband started giving back to the local schools through clipping coupons. Together with the students, they lined up along tables, assembly-line style and clip out usable coupons for school supplies.
Together, the Newcomers and student volunteers were able to receive a $500,000’s worth of groceries for just under $10,000, she said. The donated items are sorted by MCPS students who receive credit for volunteer hours.
In the Argyle Middle School gym, long tables were piled high with backpacks, binders, folders, lunchboxes and paper among other supplies.
The idea for the Drive for Supplies program came to Newcomer in 1999. She explained that making the idea come to fruition felt like something she had to do, and today the impact continues to grow.
“This is the most amount of people we’ve ever had for the collection,” she said.
This year there were 34 pallets of supplies, and students spent three days sorting and organizing the donations, Newcomer said.
Educators took advantage of the program as well.
April Tegeler is a school counselor at Earlwood Middle School. With the help of student volunteers, she had filled an entire cart with binders, dividers and paper.
“I’m getting anything that will help our students,” she said.
Attendees could take all that they needed to help prepare their students for the upcoming school year.
Students attending MCPS return from summer vacations on Sept 3.