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New Haven Public Schools focus on attendance and reading this school year

Hundreds of families received school supplies at a back-to-school rally on Thursday.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Backpacks? Check. School supplies? Check. Books? Check. New Haven students are geared up and ready to go back to school.

"To have a good school year," said Djiba Koroma of New Haven.

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Families were getting excited at the annual back-to-school rally, where thousands of students were able to pick up everything they needed for a successful year.

"I have five kids I mean any opportunity to get some school supplies for them is a big help I'm a single mom so it really is a blessing for all of us," said Angel Ortiz of New Haven.

It was also a chance for the school district to share what success will look like, letting families know there will be a big focus on attendance.

"We cannot teach an empty seat so attendance is so very important, that's one of the most important pieces for us," said Dr. Ilene Tracey, superintendent of New Haven Public Schools.

Last year, the district struggled with absenteeism.

"We recognize challenges sometimes, obstacles sometimes, but we really want to collaborate with families this year to make sure that our students come to school, that they're well-rested that they come get their breakfast on time," said Leslie Blatteau, president of New Haven Federation of Teachers.

There is also a focus on reading.

The New Haven Federation of Teachers received 10,000 books they gave away to students Thursday, allowing everyone to take as many as they wanted.

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"We just want students to have books in their hands as much as possible," said Erin Michaud, a New Haven teacher. "Whatever's left we're gonna take them to schools and make sure students at schools get them."

The rally set the stage for a great school year.

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"To say to our students, we care about you, we want you to have the resources that you need to thrive and we really want to promote that love of learning," Blatteau said.

The first day of school in New Haven is August 29.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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