Curiosity Turns to Shock
Most parents arrived solo at the school, but a few children spent one of their final days of summer accompanying their parents to the Early Bird Registration and School Supply distribution. All the children displayed a tremendous amount of patience while their parents completed the mounds of paperwork needed to get a child enrolled in school. Once the registration process was complete, the family received a voucher and the student’s patience finally paid off. The color coded vouchers served as verification to school staff located in the lunchroom that the family had completed the enrollment process and were approved to receive their Backpack and Basics items.
The cafeteria had been transformed into a virtual school supplies shopping mall and three parent involvement coordinators warmly greeted each family as they entered the lunchroom. Rows of tables displayed the various backpacks for all the students entering school this year. This organization took time and effort from many community members. There were over 18,000 school supply items (including 964 Backpacks) and over 1,000 students to prepare for during the registration open house. These items had been delivered, a total of 10 pallets, on a semi-truck weeks earlier, but an important part of this distribution was unpacking, sorting, and re-organizing. Volunteers worked alongside staff to fill the backpacks with the appropriate supplies for each grade level — 13 grades in all, including Kindergarten. The Program Partner successfully secured the volunteers needed to carry off this feat and the bags were neatly organized and ready to be distributed as soon as the school doors opened.
Once the vouchers were turned in to the staff, they went to the appropriate table for the child’s grade and turned to the student and asked: “What color would you like?” Some children wanted a closer look before making this important decision, but others just let the staff know their preference from afar. Once the decision was made, the backpack was passed to the new and rightful owner... the student.
Some of the students swung their backpacks around their shoulders and headed out the door, but a few students went through their supplies and looked through the contents before leaving. The backpacks elicited many responses from the students... mostly smiles and quiet nods of appreciation. But one student demonstrated shock and another younger boy appeared to be somewhat unmoved to his new supplies.
Emmanuel and his brother Daniel were going through their bags near the front entrance of the school. Emmanuel showed Daniel the water bottle, scissors, and notebook from his backpack. Emmanuel’s expression changed from excitement to horror, faster than a school bully can steal your milk money! Apparently, the Hannah Montana ruler he pulled from his bag was not his style. Once he recovered, he returned to the lunchroom and negotiated a trade for a more suitable ruler.
Ashton, a much younger student, arrived at the lunch room with his mother and sister, Lakota. Ashton would enter Kindergarten the following week and his mother said he hasn’t been very excited about “the big school”. His sister even conducted a mock “show and tell” of his Backpack and Basics contents, but Ashton held onto his sucker and his new ruler as he watched his sister slowly remove each item from his backpack. Even though Ashton appeared somewhat indifferent, we are confident that once he gets to his new classroom, meets his new teacher and friends, we are sure the items in backpack will not only support his learning but turn his anxiety to excitement.
Native American children like Emmanuel and Ashton started school with supplies they needed to succeed — thanks to you and other caring supporters.