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Events get kids excited about their education
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Though some area children probably dreaded going back to school this week, two local organizations will hold free events this weekend to get them excited about staying in school and getting an education.

The Grady Young Foundation will hold its first Back to School Slam Fest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Gainesville High School, followed by the Beulah Rucker Museum and Educational Foundation’s Back to School Rally at 3 p.m. in the Georgia Mountains Center.

The rally is open to all area students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, and their parents. There will be information, giveaways and entertainment.

The purpose of the rally is to show children the value of getting educated and staying in school, but in a fun way, said Rojene Bailey, The Beulah Rucker Museum’s volunteer executive director.

Hall County’s public high school dropout rate for the 2006-07 academic year was 7.1 percent, which Bailey called "dismal," compared with the statewide average of 4.1 percent, according to the governor’s office of student achievement.

Bailey said the Beulah Rucker Museum and Educational Foundation wants to aid educators in getting their shared message across.

"By no means do we profess to be professional educators," Bailey said. "What we’re trying to do is do our little small part to let kids know how important it is to go to school."

Though the rally has serious undertones, Bailey said the event is also a way to have fun and get excited about a new school year.

"We’re going to have kids in just to welcome them back to school and talk to them about the positive things about education," Bailey said.

The event will feature entertainment and prizes for all ages.

"We will have clean, positive rap acts," Bailey said.

DJ Murph Dawg from Atlanta radio station 95.5 "The Beat," Little Jimmy, Reggie Foster, Maceo and the Gainesville State Latino Dancers are among those who will perform at the rally. The football team and cheerleading squad from Gainesville High School also will be attending.

Plus, the first 200 kids will get a bag full of school supplies, Bailey said.

For parents, there will be booths with information about colleges, after-school programs and health care.

"Any kind of good positive information we can give to the parents or the kids we’re going to have it," Bailey said.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, the Grady Young Foundation will hold its first Back to School Slam Fest. The event aims to get eight area high schools together to showcase their students’ athletic skills and school spirit.

The slam fest will feature a three-on-three basketball tournament, a three-point shoot out, a team ball competition and a slam dunk exhibition, said Clarence Johnson, the chairman of the event.

Johnson is hoping the slam fest will "get our foundation out in the public more."

There will be a school spirit competition for high school cheerleading squads, dance teams and step teams. The group with the winning routine will win money for its student government.

Aside from the events, students will have the opportunity to get health screenings and win school supplies and sneakers, Johnson said.

Though they are separate events, Johnson said the Grady Young Foundation and the Beulah Rucker Museum collaborated and supported each other in publicizing their events.

"The students will leave from one event and go to the other," Johnson said.

Bailey said the two organizations share similar ideals.

"Our goals are the same. Let the kids know the importance of education," Bailey said.

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