Back to school ... so soon!
Victoria Barrera (left), new Child, Youth and Schools Services pre-Kindergarten teacher, Alma Carriker (center), CYSS after-school program assistant, and Connie Schley, pre-K assistant teacher, share a laugh Wednesday while preparing classrooms at the Youth Activities Center. The CYSS 2010-2011 school year begins Aug. 23 for pre-K students.

Commander's Message
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

It's hard to believe summer is over for most of our youths.

School began in several metro Atlanta counties this week, and most other area schools will begin Monday.

This week's issue of the Sentinel is devoted to helping you and your children prepare for their return to academia.

Take a few minutes to read the articles in this paper to ensure you and your child are prepared to make the transition back to school as smooth as possible.

You may be among the many parents who are preparing paperwork and visiting schools to ensure your child is registered and ready to begin classes.

If you've reached roadblocks with student enrollments, out-of-area waivers and other school-related issues, I invite you to call the U.S. Army Garrison's school liaison officer, Camellia Jefferson, at 464-3192.

She is our link between military community parents and the local school systems, and I've no doubt she can help resolve any issues you may encounter.

Jefferson can also provide information and documents if you're interested in homeschooling your child. In addition, she can provide information on the Fort McPherson homeschool group, explaining what the support group offers and who can participate.

Of course, gearing up for a new school year means not only preparedness in paperwork, but also in paper (as well as pencils, notebooks and more).

There are no "tax-free" days in Georgia this year to help parents save money on school supplies; however, I remind you to remember your local post exchange.

Not only are the PX's prices competitive with those you would find in civilian stores, but every day is "tax-free" day at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

While you're thinking ahead to ensure that first day of school is successful, be planning your safety measures, too.

The Atlanta Public Schools system has an active enrollment of 57,000 students attending 85 schools. That equates to a very high number of school buses that will be hitting the streets.

Drivers should be mindful of the buses' frequent stops and the possibility that children may run toward a bus before it's safe to do so.

They should also be on the lookout for children who will be near roadways, either walking to school, waiting for a bus or going to or from bus stops.

And they should keep in mind the additional traffic congestion that coincides with the school season. Parents should ensure their children are aware of the safety factors involved in traveling to and from school.

If traveling by bus, students should:

Aca,!AcArrive early at the bus stop.

Aca,!AcAvoid roughhousing and stay away from traffic.

Aca,!AcLine up away from the road as the bus approaches.

Aca,!AcWait until the bus stops completely and the door opens before climbing into the bus.

Aca,!AcIf a person drops something near the bus, notify the driver before picking it up.

Aca,!AcWhen on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Never put your head, arms or hands out of the window.

Aca,!AcKeep aisles clear of tripping hazards.

Aca,!AcWait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from the seat.

Aca,!AcIf a child has to cross the street in front of the bus, he or she should walk 10 feet ahead of the bus and wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross.

Aca,!AcStay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times. There are also hazards for children who walk to and from school. Pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 5 to 14. For children who walk, follow these tips:

Aca,!AcPlan the route with your child and keep it as simple as possible.

Aca,!AcChildren should always stop at the edge of the road and look left, right and then left again before crossing.

Aca,!AcIf the student's vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle, he should move to where drivers can see him and he can see other vehicles.

Aca,!AcChildren should keep away from vacant lots, fields and other locations that have few people around.

Aca,!AcParents should make sure children do not walk alone, especially if they're young. It is more difficult for predators to deal with a group of children.

The beginning of the school year is a time of excitement - a chance for students to wear new clothes, visit with friends missed over the summer, meet new teachers and learn new things.

It's also an exciting time for parents who want to ensure their children get a good start. As the new school year nears, remember this simple math equation: preparedness + safety = success.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16