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Excited children returned to Los Angeles Unified School District campuses for their first day of the 2019-20 school year on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Serving over 600,000 students at 1,000 schools in Los Angeles, the district celebrated the first day of instruction with a tour across 13 schools. Superintendent Austin Beutner was joined by Los Angeles Board of Education members, students, staff and special guests at each of the schools, which highlighted different programs that complemented classroom assignments in music, sports, entrepreneurship and other fields.
“The first day of school brings a sense of excitement as we welcome everyone back,” Beutner said. “Over 60,000 hardworking women and men in our schools are dedicated to making sure every student gets the best possible education. Our continuing efforts to reinforce the school as the center of our work, to be more transparent in all we do and to increase engagement with the families and communities we serve, was evident at each stop along the way.”
Hancock Park Elementary School introduced its student body of approximately 700 children to the concept of wellness as the students followed their cape-clad teachers around campus.
“The moral fabric … of this school is kindness,” Hancock Park Elementary Booster Club Co-President Danielle Peters said. “All the teachers wear their ‘kindness capes’ and they become ‘kindness superheroes.’ All the kindergarten students make a cape, and they represent their idea of kindness and it really, really works.”
Peters added that her child would remind people if they were or were not being kind, a trait she credits the school for teaching all of its students. The topic of kindness was an aspect of the school’s emphasis on wellness among students and staff, said Booster Club Co-President Shanon Trygstad.
“The principal, Mrs. [Ashley] Parker, really believes in wellness,” Trygstad said. “So once a week, kids read sayings [that are broadcast] through the classrooms. The teachers carry on [wellness] in their classrooms as well; they really just try to send that message.”
Another aspect to promoting wellness is through “Mindfulness Mondays,” Hancock Park Elementary staff member Min Pirone said.
“Each of the classrooms announce [the program is starting] and we go through a whole meditation for about two to three minutes … [It] was implemented last year,” she said. “So we’re always looking for new, innovative ways to teach and engage students [and] to be excited about learning.”
Peters and Trygstad, along with school staff, also brought back the school’s annual Giving Fundraiser, where parents donate money to not only help families who cannot afford new school supplies, but also to help teachers paying out of pocket for pencils, rulers, notebooks and other classroom items. The campaign also fundraises directly for school facilities, providing office supplies and playground equipment.
“We raise the money and Mrs. Parker decides what programs will best suit the needs of the children of the school,” Trygstad said.
In Antonae Coleman’s house, buying school supplies for her son, fifth grader Majer, was not a problem. She said through the close community of teachers and students, it’s comforting and everyone works together.
“Anything that helps the school, we always do it,” Coleman said.
In their home, Coleman said her mother-in-law helps them by buying school supplies on the last day of the previous school year.
“She takes care of that, that’s her thing,” she said. “That’s her Christmas.”
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