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Campaign Combats Underage Drinking

(NewsUSA) - Underage drinking levels are at historic lows, and one way to continue this trend is to prevent teens’ access to alcohol. The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign, first developed in 2006, is a community-level collaboration of alcohol suppliers, retailers and distributors working with parents and prevention groups to curb underage drinking.     

Today, participating groups and organizations are voicing their commitment to the campaign and its important message that debuts a refreshed look and feel that is digitally modern, culturally inclusive and demographically diverse.     

The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign takes a united stance throughout communities nationwide: “Don’t serve alcohol to teens. It’s unsafe. It’s illegal. It’s irresponsible.” Partners are encouraged to post messages against underage drinking in stores and restaurants, engage with the campaign online, hear messages on the radio and even include information on food and beverage delivery receipts. The materials will also serve as a reminder for families to have conversations at home about expectations, values and practice saying NO to underage drinking.     

“Underage drinking has declined dramatically but remains a safety issue for teens that is often overlooked, disregarded, or takes a backseat to more pressing concerns,” says Chris Swonger, President and CEO of Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and Responsibility.org. “The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign brings a critical mass of public and private entities together to spotlight underage drinking prevention. We have made a lot of progress over the years and fewer teens are drinking alcohol. By working together, we hope to make even more progress on this important issue.”     

In 1991, 80% of American teens had consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime, but today, more than three out of five teens (64%) have never consumed alcohol (Monitoring the Future, 2021). Although this trend is positive, challenges to ending underage drinking remain. The availability of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age remains high with eight out of 10 high-school seniors reporting that it is easy for them to access alcohol. Working together, significant strides have been made in reducing underage drinking, but until it is eliminated, there is still work to be done, according to Responsibility.org.     

“No retailer wants to sell alcohol to someone who is underage,” says John Bodnovich, Executive Director, American Beverage Licensees. “Retailers are on the front lines in communities across the country -- we are proud to once again lead the effort to prevent underage drinking. We look forward to working with community partners as well as industry partners to keep alcohol out of teens’ hands and stop underage drinking. Responsibility starts with us.”      

Visit WeDontServeTeens.org for more information or to participate in the campaign.

Who Celebrates National School Choice Week?

It's the seventh annual National School Choice Week, a nonpartisan, nonpolitical awareness event that has grown considerably every year - it's up from 21,000 last year and 150 events in its first year.

So who are the people leading the celebrations?

Some are parents who put themselves in the driver's seat of their children's education. They considered their children's unique needs, learning styles, and interests. They looked at the available options - traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, homeschooling, online schools, or a combination of these options - and chose the education environments they considered best for their children.

Some tracked down publicly or privately funded scholarships; others checked waitlists; and many others decided that their local school was, in fact, the best fit for their children.

Some event organizers are teachers and school leaders, happy to be playing such a crucial role in the education and development of children across America. Different schools offer different curricula, different approaches to education, different perspectives - and this diversity is worth celebrating. Every child is unique; every family is unique. Children who are excited about violin or Mandarin, children who need an extra lift in a particular area, children who thrive in traditional classrooms and children who don't - everyone should be given an opportunity to excel in whatever way best suits them. And great teachers and school leaders are an essential part of that excellence.

Some events are planned by community leaders hoping to help even more children have the opportunity to reach their full academic potential by creating new paths and raising awareness about the importance of continually expanding access to effective education options for children and families.

The participants in National School Choice Week may all be different, with unique perspectives, backgrounds, and stories. But they all believe one thing: that every child, given the right environment, can succeed. No matter what school your family has chosen, National School Choice Week provides an opportunity to celebrate students and the hope of a bright future for our whole nation.

 

School Choice Is About Parents, Not Politics

During National School Choice Week, schools of every type - traditional public, charter, magnet, online, and private - will join homeschool groups to celebrate the things that make their education environments unique and effective.

As a nonpartisan awareness effort, National School Choice Week provides an opportunity to bring conversations about education out from the political sphere and to the kitchen tables and living rooms of parents in communities across America.

This is important because, even though education is a matter of public policy, it is also deeply personal.

At its core, school choice affirms the special bond between parents and children. School choice empowers parents to turn the love and concern they have for their children into action. It encourages them to talk to their children and make decisions together about what schooling environments fit the talents, interests, and challenges that are unique to every student. And it recognizes that while one school might be a good fit for some students, it isn't necessarily a good fit for every child.

By exercising school choice options, parents who want their children to learn Mandarin can send them to a school where they will learn Mandarin; parents who believe their kids need a lot of time outdoors or who want to affirm their faith tradition can follow that path; parents who didn't go to college but want their kids to have that opportunity can find a college prep choice.

Parents choose schools for a variety of reasons. For example, a survey of Indiana parents found that parents considered factors such as academics, morality, social skills, diversity, college preparation, an appreciation for nature, patriotism, the ability to enter the job force without a college degree, and an opportunity to learn another language.

These choices reflect the diversity and individualism of our great country, and they should be respected and celebrated. After all, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we all share the same goal: to unlock the potential for success and happiness in every child through a great education tailored to who they are and who they want to be.

National School Choice Week - Time to Start a Conversation

National School Choice Week 2018 begins on January 21, shining a positive spotlight on traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

The goal is simple: to let parents know that they have choices when it comes to their children's education, and to celebrate the many different and effective education options available for students.

For almost every parent in America, there are ways to get involved in this positive, inspirational week.

If you are looking to find a new school for your child and want to know how to start the process, use the Week as a time to research your options. Download a free school choice guide for your state at  schoolchoiceweek.com/mystate.

If you want to learn more about the different schools and education environments in your area, consider using the week to attend a special event. More than 32,000 are being planned during National School Choice Week - everything from information sessions, school fairs, and open houses, to rallies. Find an event in your community by visiting  schoolchoiceweek.com/map.

If you are happy with the choices you have made for your child's education, take time during National School Choice Week to thank a teacher or school leader, or to brag about your child's school in a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can also share your story with us at schoolchoiceweek.com/share.

If you think that your community or state needs more educational choices for children, use National School Choice Week to speak up and make your opinion known.

Making a difference is easier than it sounds. All it takes is starting one conversation.

You can start that conversation on social media (using #schoolchoice in your posts), or by talking with a friend, coworker, or member of your family.

"Did you know that this is National School Choice Week?" is a good question to get the discussion going.

When more Americans talk about opportunity in education, more parents will discover the options available for their children's education. That means that more children will have the chance of being matched with schools that meet their unique talents, challenges, needs, and interests.

This National School Choice Week, all that it takes is one conversation to brighten the future of a family. Will you start one?

 

Student Preparation Program Yields College Scholarships

The Dell Scholars Program was developed by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to assist high-school seniors who have overcome significant obstacles to obtain a college education.

In 2018, of the 500 scholarships offered through the Dell Scholars Program, 281 were awarded to AVID students.

Students in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program work to overcome challenges, including limited funds for college and limited family experience with college and college preparation.

AVID is a nonprofit that provides training and support to educators, so they can ensure that all of their students are college-ready. AVID educators are trained to tutor as well as mentor students, and to provide opportunities for the students to develop friendships and support networks with peers. Many of the AVID participants are first-generation college students who benefit from the mentoring and social support as well as from the academic instruction.

"The Dell Scholars are an inspiration to all of us at AVID. These students have overcome significant obstacles to succeed, and we're honored to be a part of their college journey," Dr. Sandy Husk, CEO of AVID, says in a statement announcing the scholars. "I'm excited to see what they will achieve in the Dell Scholars Program."

All students who become Dell Scholars receive not only financial assistance to help defray the cost of college, but also resources and mentoring throughout their college experience. These supports reinforce their study habits and relationship-building skills from AVID and similar high school programs that will help them succeed and earn a bachelor's degree in the subject of their choice.

According to the Dell Scholars website, "Our support is constant until they leave campus with a degree in hand."

Dell and AVID share the common goal of leveling the playing field for promising high school students who might not otherwise have been empowered and motivated to prepare for and attend college.

For more information about AVID, visit avid.org.

For more details about the Dell Scholars Program, visit https://www.dellscholars.org.

Cultural Center Breathes Life into Historic School

The Stewart Indian School in Carson City, Nevada, was opened by the federal government in 1890 with the goal of educating Indian children. The school's original goals included assimilating the children into mainstream American culture and offering vocational training while discouraging tribal traditions and language.

The school's mission shifted to an academic focus in the 1960s and it closed in 1980, when it became the property of the state of Nevada.

Today, the state-run Nevada Indian Commission is working to restore many of the historic stone buildings on the 240-acre campus with the two-fold goal of educating the public about the school's history and providing entrepreneurial and cultural opportunities for Native Americans.

Some building space will house a museum; other areas will include venues for arts, culture, and business development.

Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission, says that the museum and cultural center "offer a new beginning to the campus."

In the spring of 2019, a new cultural center and museum is scheduled to open in one of the campus buildings. Plans also call for creating a welcome center in a former post office near the museum.

Long-term plans include rehabilitating many of the stone buildings on the campus so they can be functional spaces available for use as places of learning about tribal culture and arts.

The school was also known for strong athletic programs, and renovators hope to restore the gymnasium to its position as a gathering place not only for sports, but for other community social events.

Nevada governor Brian Sandoval was instrumental in promoting the restoration and reinvention of the school.

Sandoval made raising $4.5 million in funding for a museum and cultural center a priority in his 2017-18 budget and pledged to continue his support for other related projects. He participated in a blessing ceremony for the museum and cultural center in July.

"The importance of history and culture and what happened here, for better or for worse, it has to be preserved," Sandoval says.

"It has to be a story that is told forever. This has to be a place where people can travel from all over the country and all over the world and truly understand what happened here."

For more information about the school and museum, visit stewartindianschool.com/museum.

 

Summer Break Means 25 Percent Break for Educators, Administrators

Year-round, the bookseller recognizes all the wonderful things that educators do by giving them 20 percent off school supplies. Each weekend in August, Barnes & Noble amplifies their thank you with an Educator Appreciation Month. Each weekend in August, Barnes & Noble increases its discount to 25 percent for most books, gifts, games and toys for teachers and administrators, including items in an expanded back-to-school section.

"Educators do so much for us, our children, and our communities," says Tracy Vidakovich, Vice President, Business Development for Barnes & Noble. "That's why we try to give back in different ways, including our year-round offers for teachers, as well as special appreciation periods like this August's 25 percent discount for most merchandise in our stores."

While educators are shopping during these August weekends, they can also treat themselves to drinks and food at Barnes & Noble Cafés for 10 percent off. In addition, they can snag educational tech products, such as Code Gamer learning kits, at a 10 percent discount.

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, Barnes & Noble has a lot to choose from this year. The bookseller not only has the books, pens, and other school supplies educators need, but it has an expanded collection of back-to-school items that includes JanSport backpacks, S'well water bottles, and Skullcandy headsets.

"Between grading assignments, communicating with parents, and planning classes, teachers are busy well beyond the school year," Vidakovich says. "That's why we want to support them and make things easier by helping them save throughout the year, whether they're teaching or preparing for their next class."

Barnes & Noble's Educator Program has been dedicated to providing discounts to public, private, and home-school educators for about a decade. Sign-up is free. After this August's Educator Appreciation days, Barnes & Noble's next major educator deal will come in the fall, with another Educator Appreciation Week from October 6-14, 2018.

To take advantage of these discounts, educators can enroll in-store, or by completing the Educator Application online and bringing it to their nearest Barnes & Noble location. Educators can also find more information at www.bn.com/h/bn-educators.

 

School Choice Opens Doors

At open houses, school fairs, coffeehouse meetups, rallies, and more, millions of Americans - students, parents, teachers, school leaders, small business owners, elected officials, and individuals - are gathering to raise awareness of the importance of opportunity in education and the doors that it opens.

At its heart, that is what school choice is all about: opening doors.

For families, school choice opens doors to different types of schools, making it more likely that students can find education settings that inspire them to succeed and be happy.

These options include traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, virtual schools, and home schools. All of these choices are important, and all of these doors should be opened, because every child is unique. A school that works for one student may not work for another.

And school choice continues to open doors for students after they graduate.

With a strong K-12 education, students are more likely to be successful in college, in a vocational program, and in their careers.

In my eight years as President of National School Choice Week, I have witnessed story after story of children finding opportunities they never thought possible, precisely because of school choice.

I have seen students attend college and go on to graduate with masters' degrees, even though their parents hadn't finished high school.

I've seen students with special needs find a setting where they've thrived. I've seen students who discovered their passions, escaped bullying, and grew in confidence.

And that's what makes school choice - and National School Choice Week - so exciting.

Everyone can be a part of this celebration.

So whether you're looking for a school for your child and want to learn more about your options during the Week, or whether you take time to get informed about all the choices available in your area and share that awareness with others, you're helping the children in your neighborhood.

Above all, I hope you will use National School Choice Week to open doors, for your family or for other families. The next generation will thank you.

Start today by visiting schoolchoiceweek.com.

New App Makes it Easier to Raise Funds for Your School

But while schools themselves have many ways to fundraise and advocate for expanded federal, state and local budgets, it's parents who increasingly find themselves turning to innovative programs like Box Tops for Education to raise money for things like classroom supplies, technology, field trips and playground equipment. In fact, since its inception in 1996 -when only a select few General Mills cereals were part of a test launch - Box Tops for Education has raised more than $913 million for 70,000-plus schools just by paying 10 cents for every clip submitted from what's now a long list of participating food and household products.

Even better, a new app has simplified the entire process.

No longer do parents, teachers and other community members have to cut out and then physically drop off dozens, or even hundreds, of Box Tops clips at their local school. Instead, they're now able to use the Box Tops for Education app - downloadable for free via iTunes App Store and Google Play - to scan their receipts from any retailer right on their smartphones.

The app automatically recognizes participating products, and funds are instantly added to your chosen school's earnings online. Twice each year, schools receive a check from Box Tops for Education to buy whatever they need.

"When Box Tops for Education began 23 years ago, clipping and mailing Box Tops was the best way for us to run the program," said Erin Anderson, Box Tops for Education's platform manager. "But over the years, technology has advanced at incredible rates, opening up all kinds of new opportunities. By going digital, we will be able to create efficiencies in our fulfillment processes, better understand the health of the program, show supporters their contributions in real time, and attract more brands to participate."

Convenience aside, shoppers using the app have two big advantages:

* The ability to see for themselves, right on the app, how their shopping habits directly impact their schools.

* A chance to win one of five $20,000 makeovers for their school by scanning receipts containing at least one participating product between now and November 15, 2019.

Receipts must be scanned within 14 days of purchase. And as the program fully transitions to a digital format, traditional Box Top clips found on packaging will still be accepted until they expire.

And, yes, "double dipping" is allowed. Meaning, for a limited time only during the packaging transition, savvy shoppers can earn double the cash by submitting traditional Box Top clips to their school's coordinator and also scanning receipts containing participating items through the app. Those without smartphones are encouraged to give their receipts to a friend, neighbor or family member to be scanned on their behalf.

For more information, or to see a full list of participating products, visit www.BoxTops4Education.com.

Pop Quiz: Name the Six Types of K-12 Schools

You'd almost certainly identify traditional public school, the most common K-12 education choice. More than 85 percent of students attend traditional public schools, which are free to attend. In some states, you can choose traditional public schools outside of your zone or even your district.

Public charter schools are also available to an increasing number of students across the U.S. Available in more than 40 states, these tuition-free public schools are unique because they have extra freedom to innovate.

Have you heard of a public magnet school? These public, district-run schools teach all subjects through the lenses of a particular track or "magnet." For example, the magnet could be health sciences or performance arts.

You've also likely heard of private schools, which charge tuition and offer learning environments that may pass on a particular faith tradition or provide a unique curriculum or focus. There are more scholarship options for private education today than ever before.

There are also full-time, tuition-free online schools in many states. These flexible, technology-based schools offer a blend of online coursework and in-person activities.

Finally, don't forget homeschooling. Families who choose to educate their children in the home can access a broad variety of in-person and web-based resources to support them in their work.

Of course, there aren't just six options. Each type of learning environment overflows with customizable options: No two public schools are exactly alike, just as no two families homeschool quite the same way.

Having these choices makes a world of difference to families, allowing them to look for a school that matches their child's unique interests and skills. During National School Choice Week, we invite families across the country to discover their options - and find learning environments where their children will thrive. You can learn more at schoolchoiceweek.com/mystate/.

 

Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.

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