soccer Two Chicago Board of Education members emphasized the importance of first-day attendance during a Back to School event today on Chicago’s Southeast side.

 Board Vice President Clare Munana and Board Member Alberto Carrero Jr. addressed parents, students and community members at John Marsh Elementary School, 9822 S. Exchange, then went door to door to distribute backpacks and school supplies to children in the neighborhood.

 Joining in the effort to deliver the back to school message were CPS Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins, 10th Ward Alderman John Pope, Marsh School Principal Gerald V. Dugan Jr., and representatives of the Chicago Fire, including defender Daniel Woolard and Mather High School alum Frank Klopas, the team’s technical director,  and Univision. The Fire and Univision are partnering with CPS to provide and support an incentive for up to 500 students who attend school on Sept. 8, the first day of the District’s traditional calendar.

 “These are the last days of summer for most of our District’s 408,000 students. Next Tuesday, we want – no, we expect – everyone to be in school,” said Munana. “We work very hard every year to deliver this message, and today I am here with my colleague Alberto Carrero Jr. to make sure everyone on the Southeast Side clearly understands the importance of being in school on the first day.”

 “We are excited about the upcoming school year, and we want this community to share in that excitement,” said Carrero. “We came to Marsh today because it is a school that has great leadership and serves an important community. Marsh is a school on the move; one that is a model for our whole system.”

 The two Board of Education members, along with Eason-Watkins, noted key points that underline the importance of school attendance:


–    The first day is a day of instruction. If you miss the first day of school, you start the year behind.

–      The first day is the day you reconnect with your classmates and meet your teacher.

–      If you miss the first day, we know from experience it is too easy to miss the second or third or other days.

–      Statistically, poor attendance too often translates directly into poor academic performance.

 “The student who misses first day is immediately in the position of having to play catch-up,” Eason-Watkins said. “We have to give our children every opportunity for success, and that starts with attending school on the first day.”

 The CPS officials also emphasized the safety aspect of ensuring that children are in school.

 Marsh School, which educates close to 900 pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students, boasts an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. The school has wireless technology throughout and an award-winning dual language program that offers instruction in both French and Spanish.

 The Chicago Fire is offering 500 tickets to an upcoming game to students who text a specific message, “CPS Go Fire”, in response to ads being run on Univision. In addition, the Fire has been posting back to school reminders in English, Spanish and Polish at its home games.

 “We applaud the Chicago Fire’s commitment to support our back to school efforts by encouraging students to go to school and stay in school,” said Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott. “We have collaborated with our faith and business community leadership on spreading the back to school message, and we are excited about The Fire’s new partnership to encourage our students about the importance of education.”

 Univision has also played a key role in helping to publicize the CPS back to school message to Chicago’s diverse school communities.

 “The Chicago Fire is proud to partner with the Chicago Public Schools in getting kids back to school on September 8,” said Klopas. “My dream of playing soccer as a child and representing my country in the Olympics started in a CPS classroom. I know that every child can achieve their own dream as I did, but it all starts by attending school on Day 1.” 

 Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 408,000 students in more than 660 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.