The first day back in school can be an overwhelming experience for children: Loaded with books, backpacks and lunchboxes they have to figure out where their lockers and classrooms are and get to know their new teachers.
Anne Fox Elementary School in Hanover Park, however, took care of that last part nearly a week early.
Teachers from the school swarmed its surrounding neighborhood Wednesday visiting students and parents at their homes to introduce themselves and hand out invitations to next week's Welcome Back Night.
Thirteen staff members took part in the "Taking it to the Streets" effort, spending about two hours walking from house to house. By the end of the day, they expected to have visited 275 households all in all. This was the sixth year of the program.
"This is a lot of fun," said Carmie King, who organizes the event with fellow Anne Fox faculty member Kara Morgan. "Especially when the children are waiting outside for you."
Approaching the parents personally is part of a program called "Kids at Hope" in which the school participates.
"It means that we believe in our kids, no matter what," King said. The program tries to show children how to succeed in life, no matter where they come from or what their background.
"It brings the families, the school and the community closer together," King said. "Because it is the whole community that raises a child."
The teachers handed out fliers to parents, inviting them to the Welcome Back Night Aug. 20, when parents will be provided with information for the new school year. Teachers, parents and children also will be holding a picnic as part of the event, which takes place the night before classes are back in session.
The fliers, written in both English and Spanish, also encouraged parents to sign up for the PTA.
"A few years ago, we used to have more staff members on the PTA than parents," King said, adding that no longer is the case.