Back to school St. Louis County

School districts across St. Louis County get students prepared for the upcoming school year with a variety of events

By Charlotte Beard

It has become a norm for communities to receive support from various nonprofits in providing backpack events in preparation for kids returning to school. However, school districts have also become more involved in preparing students for their return, not only with supplies but various resources as is the case with Normandy Schools Collaborative, Hazelwood School District, and the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Normandy Schools Collaborative will host its Beyond the Backpack Community Event Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Normandy High School located at 6701 St. Charles Rock Rd. The open community event will run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students will be provided free backpacks, courtesy of Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company, filled with school supplies on a first-come-first-serve basis. In addition, the first 1,000 students who were registered for school online will receive a free pair of Adidas shoes at the event. Proof of registration/enrollment is required to receive backpacks and shoes.

Affina Healthcare, which operates the collaborative’s healthcare center, will also be present at the event to provide families with free health exams and screenings. In addition, among the 40 vendors that will be on site to provide information about its services and programs are: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Eyeseeme Bookstore, St. Louis County Library, The Nine Network, Job Corps, and St. Louis Community College. In addition, Normandy and Beyond Housing will sponsor the free event’s free haircuts which includes the entertainment of The Bubble Bus (machine-equipped bus that blows bubbles for enjoyment), bounce house, and a DJ for music. Free food will also be provided.

The collaborative began the back-to-school event in 2010 after various municipalities in its footprint began hosting their own events.

“Beyond Housing thought it would be more efficient if the events were consolidated into one,” shared Sharifah Sims-Williams, Director of Communications for Normandy.

“This event was born out of Beyond Housing’s support for (its) rental housing customers,” adds Terry Hurley, Marketing Consultant for Beyond Housing. “They have always offered their customers services and resources that go beyond housing services: back to school supplies, holiday (gifts), after school programs, financial planning, and college savings accounts to name just a few. From there, it grew in partnership with the district supporting Normandy students and families as well as families outside of the district that go to other schools. It’s part of our belief that a strong community has strong schools and education at its center. Which is why we invest in the district, schools and the (Family Engagement Liaisons.)”

Shuttle buses will also be available for attendees to and from the event. All buses will provide pickups between 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. based on the locations indicated on the event flyer, which can be found on the district’s calendar at: https://www.normandysc.org. Shuttles will begin transport back to the pickup locations at 1 p.m. with the last shuttle departing Normandy High School at 1:45 p.m.

The Hazelwood School District had its annual Back To School Community Fair on July 27 and is following up this month with a series of Open Houses prior to the Aug. 13 return date for its students. Hazelwood’s event included the distribution of backpacks provided by ten different fire and police districts in Hazelwood’s community. The school supplies were provided by the Hazelwood School District Foundation.

“The Back To School Community Fairs are an event that we hold annually at each high school simultaneously,” stated Ross Green, Public Relations Specialist for Hazelwood School District. “That’s our opportunity to get families together to link up with their schools, community partners, different district departments – a one-stop shop for families. The highlight of (the event) is that our local police and fire protection district are on hand to [distribute] backpacks filled with school supplies to students. We really love that partnership we have. This year we gave out more than 1,500 backpacks full of supplies. So, we were thrilled about that. Also, every school had a booth so families could meet their principals and staff members, and every district department that families might need to contact. Our department, Communications, was there. (Families) received an (opportunity) to talk to transportation, nutrition, and enrollment. We also had community partners on hand. We like to do (this) to help (students) feel ready for their first day.”

Ross also shared that there are a series of school-centered open house events beginning Aug. 8. Some schools will have themed events such as Popsicles with the Principal at Keeven Elementary which will include time for meeting teachers. Brown Elementary’s open house theme is Back To School Bash.

“They make it a fun event for families,” stated Ross. “We really want the families to feel welcome and have a fun time as [students] [prepare] to go back to school.”

Ross stated that details are provided to parents at the time of enrollment for each open house. Visit https://www.hazelwoodschools.org for other dates, times and details.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District is hosting its Back To School Parade & Fair on Saturday, Aug. 10, same day as Normandy. The parade will begin 9 a.m. at Mark Twain Student Support Center located at 1555 Derhake Rd. in Florissant. The parade will travel west to Waterford, turn right and conclude at the Waterford side of McCluer North High School. The fair at the Old Administration Center located at 1005 Waterford Drive from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The fair plans to include fun for the whole family—including food, games, and giveaways. In addition, information will be provided at the fair about the upcoming school year. For more information about the Ferguson-Florissant back to school event visit https://www.fergflor.org.

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Cover-school 1-3 Photos courtesy Hazelwood School District Students, parents and faculty attend the Hazelwood School District Back to School Community Fair at Hazelwood Central High School on July 27. 

Cover-school 4-5 Photos courtesy Normandy Schools Collaborative Students, parents and faculty participate is last year’s Normandy Schools Collaborative Beyond the Backpack Community Event.