Oswego County schools celebrate Attendance Awareness Month

Faculty, family and friends gathered behind the Fulton City School District building on Sept. 14 to commemorate Attendance Awareness Month, which is directed toward elementary schools and students nationwide.
The event took place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. under the trees surrounding the Fulton City School District building, located at 167 S. Fourth St. A bright orange sign read, “It’s cool 2B in school,” to welcome the visitors.
Faculty managed different tables, which were set up in a large circle where children and parents could move easily between them. Some of the tables included: Jeopardy, crafts, balloon making, snacks and finger printing with a police officer. About 100 people attended the event, with the students’ grades ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.
According to attendanceworks.org, September, also known as Attendance Awareness Month, was celebrated for the first time in September 2013. The month is dedicated to recognizing the connection between school attendance and academic success. More than 40 national organizations are working in partnership on the event.
Geri Geitner, the director of student support programs for the Fulton City Schools and each school’s home school liaison, organized the event. Heather Perry, the principal of Granby Elementary School in Fulton, said this is an annual event.
The purpose of the event is “To make the community aware of the importance of students attending school,” Perry said. “To make the community aware that it takes the entire community to let students know the importance of coming to school every day.”
Perry said that students attending school and being at school every day on time has a large impact on how they succeed. “The goal for each student is 90 percent or better (for attendance),” she said. “We want all students and families to know how important their education is and it starts with coming to school each day.”
Granby Elementary School regularly discusses the importance of getting to school on time with students as well as their parents. Students are recognized as well as acknowledged for having good attendance throughout every school year, Perry said.
Lynnette DePoint, a mother of two children who attend Lanigan Elementary, said her children were looking forward to the event.
“The idea of coming out and maybe seeing friends is exciting,” she said. DePoint has a daughter in second grade and a son in fourth grade.
Even though this wasn’t the first time the event for Attendance Awareness Month was held, it was the first time DePoint and her children attended.
“We got a letter home from (the school),” DePoint said.
Mary Volkomer, the principal of Kingsford Park Elementary School in Oswego, said Attendance Awareness Month is to send a message to all the families that schools collaborate with, and to make sure they understand that the schools hold up their end of the bargain of good instruction.
“If a student isn’t here, they’re missing out on instruction for us to be able to help raise their level and increase their growth,” Volkomer said.
Volkomer noted that if a child is very sick, then they don’t want that child coming to school because he or she could make other students sick.
“There’s a judgment call when there’s an illness,” she said.
Kingsford Park Elementary School does a perfect attendance and outstanding attendance award at the end of each school year. Volkomer said she thinks sometimes parents lose sight that if a child is sick, having them stay home is OK.
“If they’re (at school), being ill, they’re not really learning as much as they could be if they were home getting healthy,” Volkomer said.
Kingsford Park Elementary School won’t be formally celebrating Attendance Awareness Month in September. Volkomer said she holds weekly Friday guidance meetings instead. In the meetings, she sits down with the school’s guidance counselor and psychologist and they run the report for student attendance. If there is anything glaring, the school administrators will call the parents and check in on the children. If a child is out two to three days in a row, the school calls home.
“We don’t like it when kids get behind because the kids get frustrated and get overwhelmed easily when they’ve got work that stacks up,” Volkomer said.
Volkomer and her administration look for any patterns in students’ absences. If someone misses every Friday or every Monday, then there is an intervention.
“We range anywhere in between 92 and 95 percent attendance each and every quarter,” Volkomer said. “We have a great attendance by students. We’re very proud of that.”