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First Day of School

August 19, 2013

As we begin a new school year, I am so proud of the continued partnerships that the City of Columbia enjoys with Richland School District One.

As our students return to the classroom, the Columbia Police Department will again have School Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools. SROs provide a valuable service in our community. Not only do they help provide a safe learning environment for our children, but they also provide valuable resources to school staff, foster positive relationships with our youth, and help develop strategies to resolve problems affecting our youth with the goal of protecting every child so they can reach their fullest potential. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, a lot of parents have been concerned about the safety of our children while in school. The City has worked closely with the administration of Richland School District One to ensure maximum safety and security of our children, before, after and during school.

The City also continues to expand our participation in Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS). Safe Routes to School is a growing movement across the US that brings together parents, schools, and community leaders to encourage students, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school. Through our Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, (BPAC), the City has been focused on improving walking and biking conditions around schools while building healthy habits and safety skills. We will be working with parents, communities and schools to expand these efforts this upcoming school year.

The City’s Let’s Move! efforts have been widely successful. Our efforts were recognized this summer at an event at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama recognized the City for our commitment to helping children live healthy lifestyles but she also challenged us to “double down” on our efforts. Taking this challenge to heart, the City has stepped up our efforts and established new partnerships throughout the community. One partnership includes working with elementary school and child development centers to establish gardens so that children can learn how to grow their own healthy food. If your child’s school does not have a garden and would like one or if you are a gardener and would like to volunteer your expertise, please let me know and we will connect you with this exciting project.

This year the City celebrated our 5th year of Together We Can, a partnership with Richland One formed to support and enhance student achievement, promote the district’s success, and encourage the community to become more involved in Richland One’s schools (the primary school district serving the City of Columbia). Since its inception, the City has worked to help connect over 500 volunteers with Richland One classrooms. Whether it has been a 1 day activity like Together We Can Read or more long term programs like Lunch Buddies and Mentoring, the City is committed to being a catalyst for more community involvement in our schools. To that end, this year the city adopted a Community Service/Volunteer policy. This policy allows employees to utilize special leave time to volunteer with projects and organizations that contribute to the health and vitality of our community. In addition to using this time to participate in other volunteer activities, we have encouraged our employees to use this time to visit their child’s school, mentor and participate in other school related activities.

In this fast pace era of “instant” and “right now” via texting, Instagram, Facebook, etc., we need to make sure our children maintain a sense of self-worth and high self-esteem. It is so easy for our children to get lost in today’s world. It is up to us as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, guardians and community members to support and reinforce the efforts of our teachers and school administrators. As involved citizens, we can ensure our children are getting the best all around…educationally, socially and spiritually. Our children are our future and education will empower their future.

Best Wishes for a Great School Year!


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