Allentown School District raises awareness for kindergarten registration

Meghan Edinger has been in Allentown School District since she was in kindergarten, and already has plans to return after college.

Edinger, a graduating senior at Allen High School, said both her parents, sister and grandfather are Allentown graduates.

Even today, Edinger said, she still remembers her first day of kindergarten, and the reason she wants to study secondary English at West Chester University is because of her first grade teacher.

“ASD has such a strong foundation of who I am as a person,” Edinger said. “It’s an amazing community and something to be proud of.”

It’s that foundation Allentown School District is hoping to build with other young students.

Edinger, along with other Allentown staff, faculty, alumni and community partners, came to Hays Elementary School on Tuesday to raise awareness about kindergarten registration.

The kickoff event began with a news conference where graduating seniors, Superintendent Carol Birks and Mayor Matthew Tuerk spoke, followed by an outreach effort to canvass around the city.

“Education is so important in every way possible,” Edinger said. “It helps you become a better person but also [gives you] a better understanding of what’s going on around you.”

Jennifer Bryant, the executive director of elementary education, said the purpose of the event was to “promote the idea of getting registered early.”

In addition to canvassing the city, the event offered onsite registration support to families.

“Kindergarten is the building stone of every person,” Edinger said. “The values you learn when you’re in kindergarten carry through until forever.”

Kurt Berbaum, the district’s director of accountability and assessment, said the biggest challenge for families registering children for kindergarten is finding the time to do so.

With that in mind, Berbaum said the district is working to remove any barriers by providing online registration options, language support and immunization clinics.

“Everybody deserves an education,” Berbaum said. “We all want to optimize everybody’s potential. We want them.”

Full-day kindergarten starts Aug. 28, and there is no cutoff date or cost for enrollment.

However, families are required to provide a birth certificate, personal identification, proof of residency and immunization records during the enrollment process.

There are around 1,200 students attending kindergarten, which Berbaum said is slightly lower than usual.

Christine Piripavel, supervisor of special education, said she’s seen a monumental increase in awareness when it comes to kindergarten registration and district enrollment.

Piripavel said she spent the first 27 years of her life in the Allentown area. She’s been a part of the district since kindergarten and has been working as an employee of ASD for nearly 18 years.

“I’m a product of the Allentown School District,” Piripavel said. “I have seen students that have been with us since kindergarten and they’re graduating with us now. That continuity is amazing and they excel because they have that.”

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