Participants gathered and worked in unity to assemble the backpacks and write personal notes of encouragement and hope. Each backpack also included a binder, crayons, eraser, paper folders, a glue stick, markers, a notebook, pens, pencils, a ruler and a sharpener.
The 200 school backpacks were then distributed personally to Principal LaQuetta Small and the children at the Pennsylvania Avenue School in Atlantic City. The children were given the backpacks based on perfect attendance.
The event was headed up by Ken Gould, our president-elect and advisory board member of Mission 500, and Linda Nolan, a Mission 500 volunteer. In addition, Peter Raymond took an active role in finding the right school, He first met with assistant superintendent, Sherry Yahn of the school district and then with the principal. He also contacted the local media to cover the event.
“It was a no brainer of where to deliver the backpacks,” said Peter. “The school is located in Atlantic City, where our symposium was held, and the children are definitely in need.”
Once the school was selected, one issue how to equitably give out the backpacks. They decided to award the backpacks based on attendance record for grades 7 and 8.
The school had a problem with chronic absenteeism and students were missing class at alarming rates, so Principal Small decided to act. Thanks to her efforts, this year students at the Pennsylvania Avenue School have cut their absenteeism by more than half.
The school backpacks were distributed personally by some of the members of the NJESA and Mission 500 to the students in a ceremony held in the school auditorium.
NJESA president Christine Marzano and past president Jerry Duffy attended the ceremony and spoke to the students about how important it was to study hard and to be all you can be. They also shared about the NJESA and what it does.
“The School Backpack Building Event was a meaningful and high-impact experience that inspired and engaged the members of the NJESA,” said Ken. “The best part is that we were able to meet a very tangible need.”
I you would like more information on Mission 500, contact Tom Nolan at email@example.com or call him at 516.903.7291