By DaQuan Lawrence,
AFRO International Writer,

As the first day of school quickly approaches, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott is making sure the city scholars are prepared for classes with a Back 2 School Kickoff event downtown in front of Baltimore’s City Hall on Aug. 19. 

The annual event was well attended as over 2,000 of the city’s youth participated. The Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success provided backpacks and other school supplies youth can use during the academic school year, which begins Aug. 28.

“Back to school is the best time of the year for me because I know our city’s youth will be safer in school,” said Mayor Scott. “We want to celebrate this school year and kick it off right.”

The event took place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  and included activities for families, youth and members of the Baltimore community to enjoy.

The event offered an abundance of resources for families and students, including information on childcare services, vaccinations, transportation, school bell times and school supply lists. Free haircuts were given out along with free braided styles.

“This is going to be a fantastic school year in Baltimore City Public Schools,” Sonja Santelises, Ed.D., CEO of BCPS, said to the crowd of excited participants. 

Randy Ennis is a Baltimore-native and father of four who attended the Back to School Kickoff in support of the city and to receive needed school supplies for the upcoming school year. He spoke with the AFRO about the attendance struggle, encouraging parents to be persistent this school year– even if students push back.

“A lot of kids don’t go to school or have problems making it to school on time. I even have issues with my kids sometimes. Parenting is necessary,” Ennis told the AFRO. “Please don’t give up on the kids because they need us badly.”

Santelises praised Scott and the organizers of the Back to School Kickoff. She also informed the crowd of upcoming events. 

“I want to let everyone know that on Sept. 6 we will be at the B & O Railroad Museum. Come on out for free activities! Bring the family and bring the students!” she said. “On Sept. 12 we will be at the Discovery Museum. If you want some early back-to-school fun as a family, come on out– everything is free.”  

Antoynica Ryan, president and cofounder of The Ryan Institute, had a table at the event and spoke with the AFRO about the power of setting goals at the beginning of the school year. 

“You can’t achieve a goal if you don’t know what the target actually is,” said Ryan. “It’s important to think about what the goals are, set a goal and then set a plan in place to accomplish that goal.”

The Ryan Institute is a full-service academic support company based in Baltimore, that offers academic enrichment and personal development programming for scholars from birth through adulthood.

“Today we are speaking with scholars and families and sharing some of the books we utilize throughout some of our enrichment programs. All of our programming is based in literacy because we know that scholars need to be able to read first,” Ryan told the AFRO.

Debra Brooks, Ed.D serves as the director of the Office of Children and Family Success and also addressed the crowd in downtown Baltimore.

“I am so excited to see all the families and students here today,” she said. “The Mayor’s Office of Children and Families is working very closely with BCPS to make sure that you have everything you need to be successful and to be in school every single day.”

“Attendance is important!” she reminded the students and parents in the crowd. “Being in your seat everyday is important!”

For more information or questions on the upcoming academic year, Baltimoreans can contact BCPS at or call 410-545-1870.