By Neil Strebig
Eight local schools participated in “Be There” kick-off this week. The “Be There” campaign, is a United Way of Southwestern PA initiative focused on increasing student attendance during the month of February.
Teachers, local community leaders and volunteers gathered outside of the schools, cheering, showing their support for local students.
“We hope this challenge will motivate local students to show up every day and be excited about school,” Lois Mufuka Martin, United Way’s chief volunteer engagement officer, said in a statement.
According to United Way, student attendance is significantly lower in the month of February, thus they’re coordinated launch event at the end of January to help motivate students as February approaches. Studies have proven that students who miss 18 days a year, which is roughly 10 percent of the school year, have a greater difficulty reading, writing and comprehending basic arithmetic.
“We call on the community to support this challenge by encouraging students to attend school through establishing a routine, talking about school every day and making attendance a household priority,” Martin said.
In addition to the month-long student challenge, 13 groups of students are putting together videos to help motivate one another on the importance of school attendance. United Way will be selecting a winner at the end of the month and local supporters can view student-made videos on the event’s “Be There Pgh” Facebook page. Mayor Bill Peduto will be making his own video about the importance of attendance and education.
The United Way plans on gathering over a 150 volunteers to help organize the month’s “Be There” events. They will also be giving out a prize at the end of the month to whichever school accumulates the highest attendance rate.
Manchester K-8, Perry High School, Schiller STEAM Academy, Allegheny Traditional Academy 6-8, King K-8, Morrow, Spring Hill Elementary all participated in the event while, 16 schools throughout Allegheny County participated this year.
For more information on specific event times/dates or to learn how to become a volunteer visit the official website.
Information from the United Way was used in this story.