Although it seems like the lazy days of summer have just started, Newton County students began a new school year this morning.
Tuesday evening Cathelene Perry, youth advisor for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Newton County, hosted the third annual NAACP Back to School Backyard Bash.
Almost 50 children and their parents gathered at Perry's home for food, games and free school supplies. Attending children received folders, notebook paper, five pencils and pens, crayons and older children received dictionaries. "We want ya'll to use this stuff and enjoy it and thank God for the people who donated it," Perry said.
Perry's guests also feasted on hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese and watermelon. An ice cream truck even backed into Perry's driveway to supply the children with sweet, chilly treats.
Children also enjoyed hula-hoops, jump ropes, baseballs and bats.
Nicole Beaver of Club Z In-Home Tutoring Services set up an informational booth at the event to provide parents with information about the company.
Beaver explained that all Club Z's tutors are certified teachers and professionals who tailor tutoring to the needs of individual students.
"We take what they're already doing in school and we build on it," Beaver said.
She said these services are available for children of all ages and even to adults, although tutoring primarily focuses on training in math and reading for struggling children.
Federal funds sometimes can be used to pay any fees if the student attends a school listed as needs improvement under the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.
Toni Lovelace brought three of her five children to the party after she and Perry spoke about it.
"She never meets a stranger," Lovelace said of Perry. "We wanted to come to help support her and the community."
The food and school supplies were a plus for the Lovelaces too.
Perry led the children in prayer and song before the meal. She said she never wanted to hear about any of them in trouble in school or with the law or participating in gang activity.
She told them following the teachings of Jesus and the Bible would keep them out of trouble. She asked the attending parents to help set an example for the next generation.
"I really wanted to talk to the kids because I want them to be role models - smart kids - but at the same time to know God and God's word, so they'll stay out of trouble," Perry said. "We wanted them to have a good time too."