‘Be There’ campaign kicks off

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RADFORD — Radford City Public Schools launched for the first time its “Be There” campaign, a program aimed at getting parents more involved with their children’s educations.

The program kicked off with an informational meeting Thursday at the Fraternal Order of Police building in Radford. Assistant school superintendent Rob Graham detailed what he and the school board felt were the reasons for launching the campaign.

“Each year, 1.2 million students in the United States drop out of school. That’s 7,000 students a day. … Studies have shown that as the poverty level increases, the dropout rate increases, and a lot of times it’s those families below that poverty level that aren’t very involved with their kids’ education,” he said. “Environment affects youth development and intellectual growth. We need to do more as instructors to get parents involved to not let that environment affect our students in a negative fashion. That’s what this program’s all about.”

According to Graham, the program cost between $1500-$2,000 to implement, plus the cost of a program director. Initially, Graham and the school board were approached around two years ago with the idea for the program, and after doing research on the subject the board sat down with area principals and the decision was made to move forward with it.

The Be There campaign is targeted toward parents of K-12 students in the Radford public school system. It will feature photographs of 1-on-1 adults with kids in different combinations based on age, race and sex doing different school-related activities.

“It’s a way to show we’re for everyone and not just one specific group,” program director Bari Hyatt said during her presentation. “It’s designed to have parents get involved and to improve student achievement through increased parent and faculty involvement.

“Students with involved parents are more likely to succeed, regardless of socioeconomic situations.”

On top of the photographs, which will likely hang in the halls in Radford’s many schools, the program will feature localized posters, television, radio and print media ads, billboards, post cards and so on. The program is catching on nationwide, but this is the first of its kind implemented in the City of Radford.

“We’ll have community events, a spring family social, use social media and blogs for teachers — all of it geared toward drawing parents in.”

By Aaron Atkins