Annual event draws large crowd, excitement and giveaways

Columbia High cheerleaders

Photo: Vanecia Thompson

Thousands of DeKalb County School District (DCSD) students, parents, and community members showed how ready they are for the 2019-2020 school year on Saturday, July 27, 2019, as part of the ONE DeKalb Back-to-School Rally.

The rally–which took place at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex located at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain–united DCSD stakeholders at all levels. In addition to students and families, the event brought together local businesses, non-profits, fraternities, sororities, medical services, and entertainment venues.

“This is a family reunion,” said Superintendent/CEO Dr. R. Stephen Green. “This rally is about showing everyone what DeKalb County School District and DeKalb County is all about. We’re about celebrating our students. We’re about helping our community. We’re here to kick off the 2019-2020 school year in style!”

An ongoing goal for DCSD overall is providing social and emotional support for students, families and staff. On July 27, families were treated to health screenings, dental screenings, and free groceries thanks to valued community partners at the DeKalb Board of Health, Decatur Pediatric Group, Mark Shurett Family Dentistry, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

While health and emotional support remains a top district priority, DCSD also provided classroom essentials. Families were also treated to school supplies–including backpacks, clothing, as well as pencil, paper, folders and more– thanks to Office Depot, 100 Black Men, and the district itself.

According to Marcia Coward, DCSD’s Family Engagement Program Manager, the ONE DeKalb Back-to-School Rally is the result of six months’ worth of coordination, planning, and hard work.

“Today is the product of many people working many hours for the benefit of our families and students,” Coward said. “We’re here to show the district is there for anyone seeking and needing support.”

The thunder from bass drums, the ringing of flutes, the snaps from snare drums, and the shouting of spirit-filled students could be heard throughout the Robert R. Freeman Complex, as marching bands and cheerleaders from every region in DCSD performed. The school judged to have the most spirit took home bragging rights, as well as the 2019-2020 Spirit Stick.

family of four smiles

Photo: Vanecia Thompson

The ONE DeKalb Back to School Rally also attracted alumni looking to give back to their community. In addition to multiple sororities and fraternities, Lithonia High School Class of 2010 graduate Jordan Roman was also present to show his support.

Roman is now the owner of 50 Sports Company, an organization that focuses on athlete training. Roman currently dedicates his time to training athletes at all levels, from youth sports

to professionals. He calls his business a one-stop-shop for athletic development both on and off the playing field. The organization’s motto is, “Be More Than Just an Athlete.”

On July 27, Roman was on-site with yoga mats and training ropes, hoping to get students and staff to break a sweat.

“I went to Lithonia, Salem Middle, and Murphy Candler Elementary,” Roman said. “DeKalb County School District made me the man I am today. I’m grateful to come through a school system like DeKalb County, and thankful I can give back. I’m here to let the youth know–and show them–how important it is to give back to the community.”

Roman’s business is typical of the organizations gathered at the ONE DeKalb Back to School Rally, and highly indicative of DCSD’s mission for the 2019-2020 school year. With record-high graduation rates, state-leading STEM and STEAM-certified school numbers, and record-high CCRPI scores, the district’s focus will be on not just improving upon these scores, but making sure the emotional and mental wellbeing of the community also continue to soar.

“August 5, 2019, marks the beginning of what is sure to be the best school year yet in DeKalb County School District,” said Dr. Green in his welcome back letter for the 2019-2020 school year. “Let’s build upon yesterday ’s successes together. Let ’s continue to harness the power of education —and create new, innovative ways to use it—each and every day. Let’s continue to support our children —and one another—for the betterment of DeKalb County, and its future.”