Mellissa White, her son, Damien and her cousin, Antoine Milon sat inside the air-conditioned lobby of Southside Medical Center Saturday afternoon. The couch offered a welcome respite after a morning spent riding horses, playing with a clown and launching themselves down an inflatable slide.
But the activities weren’t why the trio was at Southside. Atlanta Public Schools, in an effort to increase attendance on the first day of school Aug. 4, was hosting a registration event as part of their Day One: Be There campaign.
In addition to being able to register her son for sixth grade at Price Middle School, White also got Damien’s eyes, ears and teeth checked by the staff at Southside. The event also offered immunizations, but Damien was up to date.
The push for increased attendance and readiness even drew an appearance by Meria Carstarphen, the recently-appointed superintendent of the 49.000-student district.
“Over 5,000 kids missed school on the first day and we know that when you miss a day of instruction, you are missing out on your education,” Carstarphen said.
“We want students to be ready, mind, heart, soul and bodies for the first day of school.”
She said the school system wants parents and children to only have to focus on showing up to school ready to learn.
It definitely helped White and her son.
“I don’t think a lot of people know that (immunizations) are required now,” she said. “It’s very important that he came today.”
Damien held a red backpack full of school supplies on his lap — another party favor from the event.
”He is going to be ready for the first day of school,” White added.
Carstarphen was also looking forward to her first first day of school in Atlanta and is almost ready for it herself.
“I love the first day of school,” she said. “But I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to wear.”
First Day of School
Aug 4: Atlanta, Cherokee, Cobb, Decatur
Aug 5: Gwinnett
Aug 6: Douglas, Marietta
Aug 7: Clayton
Aug. 11: DeKalb, Fulton