DPS providing breakfast, lunch for School Count Day

One student per high school to receive $50 gift card

All Detroit Public Schools' parents have been invited to enjoy free breakfast and a specially-prepared lunch with their students on February 12.

As part of the district's Count Day incentives, parents will get to experience and taste first-hand the delectable menu options made available to students daily.

A traditional breakfast will include cereal, graham crackers, juice and milk. For lunch, the Office of School Nutrition for Detroit Public Schools will prepare baked chicken with barbecue sauce, baked macaroni and cheese, seasoned greens, creamy coleslaw, a cornbread muffin, diced peaches and beverages.

The Count Day incentives build on the district's Winter Retain and Gain Campaign-a year-round student retention program to support ongoing strategic initiatives and retention and recruitment efforts.

The Office of School Nutrition will also randomly select one student per high school with perfect attendance on Count Day to receive a $50 gift card, and each homeroom in grades K-8 with 100 percent attendance on Count Day will receive a pizza party.

Schools will be notified of their winnings after Count Day totals have been calculated, no later than March 15.

Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of the Office of School Nutrition, said she hopes the Count Day program will not only spur an increase in attendance, but also introduce parents to the district's healthy food options.

"We want our parents to understand the benefits of eating healthy foods in relation to creating healthy minds so that our students are ready to learn each day," she said. "But before learning can even take place, we need to ensure they're in school each day, and on time. On Count Day, and every day, we stress to students and parents that regular school attendance is directly linked to academic success."

The DPS Office of Parent and Community Engagement and Detroit Parent Network will also kick off registration for the new Parent University program on Wednesday where DPS parents can register for classes to obtain certification in four categories, including: Student Success, Life Skills, Effective Parenting and Leadership. As part of the district's new five-year Strategic Plan, the goal behind Parent University is to educate and empower parents as partners, advocates and lifelong teachers in their child's education through educational courses and leadership opportunities. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday and runs through February 27.

Parents can register at any one of the district's eight Parent Resource Centers. Registration will be open to the first 150 parents. Visit the Detroit Public Schools' website for the full list of centers.

Huntington Bank and Viacom are also partnering with DPS to aid in boosting student attendance on Count Day.

As part of Huntington Bank's upcoming Lemonade Day Program, where students learn how to become successful entrepreneurs through operating their own lemonade stands, Huntington Bank will award $1,000 to the school with the highest attendance rate on Count Day. The winning school will be announced on February 26 and the money will be used to support the school's Lemonade Day business.

DPS is continuing its partnership with Viacom and its social responsibility umbrella Viacommunity to extend the successful Get Schooled Attendance Campaign into the winter semester. Specifically geared toward DPS students and their families, the program-which initially launched in the fall of 2013-encourages students to attend school all day, every day by "checking in" on the Get Schooled website, www.getschooled.com daily for a chance to win prizes throughout the semester. Students who check in on Count Day will earn double points.

The 2014 Get Schooled Attendance Campaign launched on February 3. It encompasses three rounds and ends on May 2. The DPS middle or high school with the most check-ins throughout the semester will win a special Get Schooled event at the end of the year. Along the way, schools and students can earn multiple prizes and gain recognition from Get Schooled and Viacommunity.

Last fall, almost every eighth grader at Durfee Elementary-Middle School participated in the campaign. As recognition for their school-wide focus on excellent attendance, the students earned a visit from Allegra Clegg, co-producer of Transformers: Age of Extinction, filmed in Detroit.

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