School starts for many on Tuesday

September 7, 2009 (CHICAGO) A coalition of community groups took to the streets Monday morning in an effort to stop the violence as children prepare to head back to school.

Members of the CeaseFire organization want to create a safe passage to and from school. They prayed for a safe school year as they marched down Martin Luther King Drive Monday morning.

Twelve-year-old Alennis Isby's mother is one of many parents trying to get what feels like an endless list of supplies needed for the first day back to school.

"Last year I only needed crayons and notebooks, I didn't need that much. Now I have to have binders and locks and a whole bunch of stuff," Alennis said.

At Target in Morgan Park, back-to-school prep is in full swing to make sure the first day goes right.

"Everybody waits right before the week of going to school. 'I need crayons! I need rulers!' We expect it," Target Executive Team Leader Shauna Williams said.

Also Monday morning, some with supplies already secured concentrated on arriving to class in style.

"Because when I go to school, I like to look pretty. I don't like looking ugly. I like prettiness. It actually brings out your inner beauty," 9-year-old Kaela Ray said.

For 6-year-old Vershawn, it's a day of firsts: the first haircut for his first day of school.

"I wasn't ready to get it cut, but I have to let it go," Vershawn's mother Mary Odom said.

Stylist and barbers donated skills and time for the Labor Day Free Haircut and Style event.

"A lot of things have been lost. We're giving back to help one another. There's a lot of selfishness going on out there with people. Just pay it forward a little bit," barber Charles

The hope is kids who look and feel good will perform well and show up for that ever-important start of class.

"The schools are paid per head, and if [students] don't show up they miss the day, they are already behind," Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter said.

Most would agree that last-minute preps don't mean a thing unless kids are present for the first day of class. The school bell rings Tuesday morning.

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