Diggy Simmons & Trevor Jackson visit Durfee Elementary-Middle School to raise awareness of the importance of first day attendance

Get Schooled, Viacom and Taco Bell Foundation for Teens launch Back to School Competition Focused on Detroit Public Schools Middle and High School Students

DETROIT (August 11, 2014) —  Diggy Simmons and Trevor Jackson appeared at Durfee Elementary-Middle School today, August 11, for a “Start Strong” Back to School Rally with hundreds of students from across Detroit Public Schools.  The message: Be ready to start school on September 2nd.   The school visit was part of Get Schooled’s city-wide competition, launched with the support of Viacom through its Viacommunity social responsibility umbrella, to encourage students to be back and ready to learn on the first day of school. The Detroit Public Schools’ middle or high school with the highest attendance rates during the first two weeks of school will earn a visit (and free lunch) from the Taco Bell Taco Truck.

“There is nothing more important than showing up on time and ready,” said Atlantic Recording Artist, Diggy Simmons. “Trevor and I are excited to be in Detroit today to encourage students to start getting ready for September 2nd today.”

The event was held in conjunction with Detroit Public Schools’ new “See It Believe It” Retain/Gain Enrollment Campaign launched July 31 to ensure the district retains all current students and gains new enrollees. The new branding seeks to demonstrate the school system’s commitment to providing academic programs, initiatives and partnerships – such as with Get Schooled and Viacom – that families desire, and making strategic decisions to attract and retain families. With DPS’ “See It Believe It” Retain/Gain Enrollment Campaign, attendance and college-readiness programs are a major component.

Regular school attendance is the greatest predictor of high school graduation rates.  A study released earlier this year by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) found that attendance during the first month of school is a predictor for year-long attendance. In the study, students who missed fewer than two days in September typically had good attendance rates for the entire year.  However, 90% of those who missed four days of school or more in September went on to miss more than 20 days across the entire school year – putting them at high risk of dropping out.

“Being at school on September 2nd will set a young person on track for a successful school year,” said Ricardo Martin, Principal of Durfee Elementary-Middle School.  “We are pleased to have Diggy Simmons and Trevor Jackson spread that important message to young people across the city.”

To attend the Back to School Rally at Durfee, students were required to receive an invitation from Get Schooled, after which they were encouraged to ‘bring a friend who could be inspired by the message.’  At the event, students were provided the opportunity to receive a back-to-school check list, sign up for Get Schooled, and enroll in Detroit Public Schools.

“The public needs to be reminded that amazing things are happening in each and every one of our 97 schools each and every day, and we’re excited to have partners such as Get Schooled and Viacom to help get our students excited for the new school year,” said Jack Martin, Emergency Manager for Detroit Public Schools. “We have programs and partnerships that are being offered at DPS that parents can’t get anywhere else. And, if people take the time to visit/explore our schools and interact with the students, teachers and administrators in those schools, they will see proof of this progress.”

The Back to School Rally featured members of the Get Schooled Leadership Corps, launched last spring, who served as mentors and student hosts for the day’s activities.

Get Schooled, with the support of Viacom, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, and other corporate partners, have a long-standing partnership with Detroit Public Schools focused on improving attendance and ultimately increasing high school graduation rates and college-going rates.  In June, Get Schooled and Viacom partnered with Big Sean, who served as principal for a day, to recognize the attendance performance of Bates Academy.

“Improving school attendance is the first step to student success,” said Marie Groark, Executive Director of Get Schooled. “Few cities are doing as much as Detroit is doing to start the school year strong. We are proud to be partners with schools and students across Detroit.”

For more details on the Get Schooled campaign, visit www.getschooled.com. To learn more about the DPS Attendance Policy, visit www.detroitk12.org/attendance.

About Get Schooled

Get Schooled is a non-profit organization that directly engages and motivates students to graduate from high school and succeed in college. Get Schooled is the premiere education brand for young people – linking students with high quality, cutting edge resources and tools they need to succeed. Get Schooled has developed a track record of success because it engages with young Americans using the media, technology and popular culture that is an integral part of their lives. Get Schooled’s work is boosted by partners like Viacom, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.

About Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools is creating Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools at 97 campuses with a mission to provide a comprehensive educational experience that is high-quality, challenging and inspires all students to make a positive contribution to society. DPS offers a wide variety of educational advantages to students and parents including Individualized Learning Maps for all students. New this year, arts/music and sports leagues for boys and girls are being offered at every elementary/middle school. Prekindergarten offerings have been expanded to 70 schools across the district for all qualified 4-year-olds. Twenty-one schools are now open as Community Schools, offering extended hours and services. Students in grades 8-12 enjoy take-home Netbooks and students in grades 6 and up have access to Netbooks in school. An outstanding Fine Arts program with instrumental music, vocal music and dance is also offered. Ongoing advantages include eight parent resource centers, Parent University and additional parenting programs, enhanced safety initiatives, a district-wide Customer Service focus, nine Detroit Rising College Preparatory Schools and DPS-authorized charter schools led by educators with proven track records of raising achievement. In 2014, DPS graduates earned $138 million in grants and scholarships. To learn more about Detroit Public Schools, visit detroitk12.org or call (313) 240-4DPS.

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