Merlene Davis: Make sure your child is ready for school

Classes in Fayette County Public Schools begin Aug. 11.

Isn't that rather early?

Coming from a time when no schools started until after Labor Day, I think that date seems rather early. But then, it started Aug. 12 last year, so I guess, with my own children all out of high school, I am just blissfully unaware.

In other parts of the state, particularly the mountain counties, some schools are starting as early as Aug. 5.

Regardless, parents, guardians and school employees, it is time to gird yourselves for the new school year.

For parents of first-time students, one of the most important reminders I can give you is to get your child a current immunization certificate and physical examination. Quickly.

Students will be able to register without the immunization certificate, but "they can't put their bottom in a seat without it," said Michelle Marrow, school health director for the Fayette County Health Department.

The physical exam, on the other hand, can be conducted within a year before a child enters school or as late as one month after entering school for new and out-of-state transfer students.

Sixth-graders must have another physical exam within one year before entering school.

By Jan. 1, entering students also must have an eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, and a dental exam conducted by a dentist or dental hygienist.

If you don't have a family doctor, the health department is holding clinics at the Public Health Clinic South, 2433 Regency Road. The exam's cost is based on family income. Call (859) 288-2483 for a same-day visit, and take the child's immunization records to the appointment.

Once those medical requirements are checked off, you'll have to gather school supplies.

Some stores have posted lists of required supplies. Grab one of those and watch the paper for bargains that already are being advertised.

Or, if this recession has zapped most of your discretionary funds, LexLinc is again coordinating the Ready, Set, Go! Neighborhood Back to School Rallies, which will provide 8,000 elementary, middle and high school students with backpacks and supplies.

The rallies will be Aug. 7 at 21 sites in Fayette County, with registration from 8 to 10 a.m. at each one. In order to get the supplies, however, the student must accompany the parent. There will be food, speakers and entertainment before supplies are given out at noon.

This will be the last time LexLinc will coordinate the rallies. The organization will be dissolved soon because of budget cuts.

For more information and a list of neighborhood sites, go to

Then it will be time to encourage students, teachers, parents and staff to do their best this school year.

On Aug. 8, St. Luke United Methodist Church is hosting its annual Bless Our Schools Event. The theme this year is Don't Stop Believin', said Susan Cutshall, director of childhood ministries at the church.

"There are a million things you can add to the end of that," she said.

Don't stop believing in your education, your schools, your child or yourself.

The event is free and will feature entertainment by students, teachers and parents. "Everyone involved is part of the school system," with the exception of the emcee, Cutshall said. The program starts at 6:30 p.m.

Fayette County Public Schools superintendent Stu Silberman will be at the church and in various neighborhoods for the rallies.

Each student in attendance will receive hand sanitizer and a composition notebook with a sticker reading, "St. Luke believes in you."

I just love it.

We have the neighborhood rallies and even a special church program to bless anyone involved with the schools.

Even if it does seem like school starts earlier each year, at least this community is trying to help all of us get prepared for it.

It is looking more and more as if this village is trying its best to raise our children.