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Aug. 19, 2008

MCPS holds first annual Back-to-School Fair

by Jeremy Gradwohl, Online Op/Ed Editor
Thousands of parents and students swarmed the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Rockville headquarters for the first annual Back-to-School Fair on Saturday. Students participated in various kid-friendly activities, while their parents circulated booths to obtain information about the upcoming school year. The event featured local entertainment and speakers while encouraging a family approach to MCPS education.

Around 5,000 people showed up for the festival, according to MCPS estimates. Nancy Navarro, Director of the Board of Education, was thrilled with the outcome of the fair. "Research shows when parents are involved, children do better in school," Navarro said. "This was a great way of kicking off the school year."

Two tents were set up in the parking lot of the Carver Educational Services Center, adjacent to the Montgomery College Rockville campus. MCPS and other organizations in Montgomery County sponsored informational booths under the tents. A variety of children's events were also scattered around the parking lot near Rockville Pike.

Throughout the day, a wide array of acts occupied an outdoor stage, ranging from Indian cultural dancing to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase jazz band. Local radio disc jockey Angel Santiago emceed the performances.

Director of the Department of Family Communications' Division of Family Eric Davis was pleased with the diversity of the acts. "The fair speaks volumes for our county," Davis said. "It's a cultural celebration of diversity."

Inside the building, officials demonstrated the new technologies that will adorn MCPS classrooms this fall. Representatives from Edline as well as from a new interactive program, Promethean, fielded questions.

Channel 7 anchor Gail Pennybacker spoke at the festival as both a local celebrity and as a mother of two MCPS students. "I'm so thrilled to be here," she said. "This is such an amazing school system that they threw this party for you."

Pennybacker went on to praise MCPS's personal attention to students. "You've got a school system that will go all out for you," she added.

The Board of Education began planning this festival months ago in March. "This was the best way to reach out to the community," Davis said. "It incorporates elements of information and fun."

The fair featured over one hundred community sponsors with non-profit organizations, as well as local and national businesses, all donating goods and services. Due to unexpected crowds, the food supply ran low. "Some people might not get the food, but let's focus on the good things about this festival," Santiago said.

Davis said that this is the first of many annual Back-to-School fairs. "The only thing I would change is that we would start planning earlier next year," he said.

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  • Anonymous on August 22, 2008 at 2:14 PM
    Dear MCPS: Waste money much?
  • 10 on August 26, 2008 at 10:59 AM
    Good job grads!
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