LocalPrince George's County

Block Party Builds Excitement for New School Year

Although the first day of school in Maryland isn’t until Tuesday, thousands of Prince George’s County students received plenty of school supplies to help jump-start the year.

Parents and children stood in a line snaked around the parking lot outside Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie on Saturday, Aug. 25 to pick up pencils, binders, folders and other essential materials inside backpacks at the school system’s eighth annual Back-to-School block party.

Interim schools CEO Monica Goldson said the county met its goal of 15,000 backpacks that exceeded last year’s benchmark of 12,000.

“It’s a humbling experience, but I am so proud of the staff who has helped to make this event special,” Goldson said after she placed some spiral notebooks and pencils in backpacks for elementary students. “We’re excited about the 2018-19 school year and helping to make sure our families know we want them to be a part of our family.”

The stadium, home to the Bowie Baysox minor league baseball team, also featured several vendors for math tutoring, mentorship for boys and recommendations to monitor negative images on the internet.

Besides Sandra Copelin’s son, Ricardo, receiving a backpack with pencils, spiral notebook and other supplies, she joined the Educational Systems Federal Credit Union with 12 locations in Maryland. The financial institution not only has a branch where she lives in Bowie, but she’s also an educator.

“I have never seen it, so I’m excited to visit that location,” said Sandra Copelin, who works as a paraprofessional at CMIT Academy South-Middle High Public Charter School in Upper Marlboro. “I really didn’t think it was going to be a large turnout with all these resources, but this is great.”

Ricardo Copelin, who will enter the 10th grade at Largo High School, already has a few goals for when school begins.

“I want to get way better grades than last year because my grades weren’t as [good] last year,” said Copelin, who plays the trumpet in the school’s marching band. “I’m hoping to have a better experience in socializing and meeting new people.”

As for the overall school system, a few updates for this upcoming school year include:

• $3 million in new smart boards, iPads and other technology.
• $1 million shifted from the central office to the schools.
• 20 more schools to incorporate arts integration.

John White, spokesman for the schools system, said in an email about 800 new teachers will be hired this year, compared to 1,000 a year ago.

Students, teachers and other faculty at Tulip Grove Elementary in Bowie will begin the year in a newly renovated building. Parents and their children can visit the school during an orientation Friday, Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, parents such as a Tobias Anabaraonye of Riverdale can’t wait for his four children, ages 5 to 11, to begin school next week. It helps they each received free items at the block party in Bowie.

“It’s marvelous,” Anabaraonye said with a smile. “It helps us out a lot.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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