The Trenton Board of Education hosted Rainbow Drive as an initiative supporting its Every Day Matters Attendance Campaign on Saturday, February 23. The mission of the event was to gather a more informational framework to instruct children that showing up every single day to learn is highly beneficial.

The campaign, as part of Trenton Board of Education’s effort to help their students, is a preventative measure to gather a collective effort to attend school.

According to the Trenton Board of Education, “chronically absent students are at an increased risk for being held back, struggling academically, dropping out of school, and getting into trouble with the law.”

At the Rainbow Drive, volunteers from The College of New Jersey assisted in setting up for the event, worked registration, organized donations, directed parents to different areas of the building, hosted arts and crafts and cleaned up as needed.

The end of the Drive included a networking opportunity and information session with nonprofits in the Trenton Area for those volunteer students looking to expand their educational activism efforts.

According to the Trenton Board of Education, the attendance policy rationale is being enforced to all of its constituents. “Any school that wants to improve its students’ outcomes must focus on attendance, as noted in policy. “Consideration must be given to attendance before school begins, and must be closely tracked from the very first day of school.”

The Trenton policy is based upon research conducted by Baltimore Public Schools, whereby students who were absent two to four days in September were five times more likely to be chronically absent, according to the Baltimore Education Research Consortium.

Students from the College believe that chronic absenteeism is an issue that they hope to resolve together. Brittany Yee, a freshman accounting major at the College, feels strongly about active educational participation among students and other methods to assist with lessening the amount of those chronically absent.

“Education is their foundation before they go out into the real world,” Yee said. “Going to school allows students to gain more knowledge through the experiences they have when interacting with others.”

Yee is interested in giving back to a more poverty-stricken community compared to a more affluent community like Ewing. “We as students can also promote attendance through the web, touching upon the importance and effectiveness of having education at an early age,” she mentioned.

According to Lucy Feria, Interim Superintendent for Trenton Public Schools, as quoted in an interview with NJ.com, “Students in high-poverty districts such as ours often face very real obstacles involving family responsibilities, difficulties at home, health problems, and transportation issues that affect their daily attendance.”

The Trenton Board of Education also posts several attendance promotion flyers and sources on their district’s page, statistics inspiring preschool and kindergarten students to learn a new word or sound, elementary students to learn a new math skill or scientific theory and middle and high school students to learn about a new, interesting topic.

Fred McDowell, Ed.D, Superintendent of Trenton Public Schools, highlights the foundation of the city’s educational institutions.

“The mission of the Trenton School District is to ensure that all students graduate with a vision for their future, motivated to learn continually, and prepared to succeed in their choice of college or career,” McDowell noted. “Our collective work is unfinished until we are able to deliver on this promise for all students.”

McDowell also mentioned that the district is working on investments to ensure educational barriers influencing students from being absent from school are notwithstanding. These investments include new facilities, new school buses, new curriculum materials, access to web-based resources, free breakfast and lunch and free pre-school.

Trenton also alludes to the fact that 20 absences are far too many as it leads to students struggling academically, being held back a grade, dropping out and likely to get in trouble with the law- all serious matters which are actively promoted to students and their families.

At the Rainbow Drive Campaign, the Trenton Board of Education teaches students to develop good attendance habits, offering helpful guidance to their families as well. These tips include making school a part of their family’s daily life, keeping in touch with their child’s school and planning and working together for events such as family vacations.

Denise Holguin, the coordinator of the Rainbow Drive and Parent Coordinator and Interim Homeless Liaison for the Trenton Board of Education, believes that students should prioritize attendance and make the most of their educational experience.

“I think it is important for children to attend school in efforts to become a viable citizen,” Holguin states. “Elementary and secondary education is free and all students should take advantage of the opportunity to pursue higher education or a career of choice.”

The initiative to decrease the rapidly rising rate of chronic absenteeism is in full effect. Trenton is not only hosting one volunteer effort but is also gathering a collective effort of individuals to bring upon an impactful solution.

“Through this initiative, the district is working on streamlining protocol and procedure as it pertains to attendance,” Holguin explains. “Each school now has an attendance team that includes support staff and attendance officers. With these teams, more outreach is occurring to prevent chronic absenteeism.”

These teams also connect students and families to services which help them plan educational learning to the best of their advantage, Holguin notes.

For more information on the Trenton Board of Education and its initiative, kindly visit http://www.trentonk12.org.