It’s back to school time!

The 2016-2017 school year is about to begin. In the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) the first day for 1st through 12 grades is Monday, August 29, and for Pre-K and Kindergarten it’s Wednesday, August 31.

There is a new college prep program starting this year here on the Northside. North High School is adding the North Academy of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (NSTEM) this year. For those who are long time Northsiders, think Summa Tech. It will join the North Academy of Arts and Communications (NAAC), which is already at North High.

As the school year begins, there are things that both parents and other community members can do to help make it a successful year.

Parents make sure your student goes to school every day, on time. Research shows that students who have 95 percent or better attendance do much better in their academics. In MPS last year only 61 percent of students were there 95 percent or more of the time. Also, make sure your child has a good night’s sleep and make sure they have breakfast either at home or school. Other things you can do are have your child read or be read to at home every day, check their backpack and have conversations about their day at school every day. If you have concerns about your child’s learning, talk to the teacher and be sure to attend your child’s conference and other school functions.

If you don’t have a child in school, there are still things that you can do. You can volunteer at a school in your neighborhood. Be a tutor to a student or students who are struggling in reading or math. Help out in a Kindergarten or Pre-Kindergarten/High Five classroom. Those little students can always use an extra caring adult. Be a mentor to a middle school or high school student, which, could help keep them on track to graduation. Volunteering is likely to be just as rewarding for you as it is for the students. You can also volunteer to help out in the school library, office, lunchroom or garden. If a school near you collects Campbell’s “Labels for Education,” and/or General Mills “Box Tops for Education,” save them and drop them off at the school. Schools can turn these in to get items such as gym equipment, library books, etc. for the school. Support your local schools by attending concerts, science fairs, robot competitions, pancake breakfasts, carnivals and other events or fundraisers.

Be sure to watch out for children while out driving. Children don’t always remember to look both ways when crossing the street, no matter how many times they’ve been told. Also, it is illegal to pass a school bus that has its stop sign out and red flashing lights on.

Lastly show your support for our local student athletes by attending the games of our Henry High Patriots and North High Polars. Go Patriots! Go Polars!