When students arrive at Lexington's Meadowthorpe Elementary School for the start of classes Wednesday morning, they'll find something new waiting for them on their desks — school supplies ready for them to use.
At reduced cost to parents, Meadowthorpe is providing all of its students — officials expect about 480 on Wednesday — with all the basic supplies they'll need for the start of the 2010-11 school year.
Among other things, each child will get a clip board, markers, a box of pencils, glue stick, notebook, composition book and a copy of the school's academic agenda, plus a school T-shirt.
The items aren't free. Parents must pay $7 for each child. But for that $7 their child gets about $20 worth of school supplies to start the new year.
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"I think it means a lot for our families," said Meadowthorpe's new principal, Joel Katte, who moved to Lexington this year from Wisconsin.
Providing supplies for students is a joint effort by Meadowthorpe and its PTA. The school allocated about $9,500 for supplies, while the Meadowthorpe PTA added about $2,300.
Meadowthorpe is the first school in the Fayette County system to take such a step, according to school district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall.
The idea was proposed last year by Meadowthorpe's then-principal, Mike Stacy, now chief academic officer with Woodford County Public Schools.
Stacy said he saw it as a way to make sure every Meadowthorpe student "felt equally valued."
"Meadowthorpe is such a diverse school," he said. "We had 33 different countries represented, 17 different languages, and just about every economic background that you could imagine. We were struggling not only with school supplies, but also with something as simple as a T-shirt. Not all our kids could afford a T-shirt."
Stacy said Meadowthorpe was able to provide students with most of their supplies last year.
This year the school wanted to provide everything the children needed, for the small fee. Parents would not have to shop for any supplies.
A schoolwide fund-raiser and donations from the PTA made it all possible, Meadowthorpe officials said. The school plans to do the same thing every year from now on.
"We didn't want to go all the way with it until we knew we could sustain it year after year," Stacy said. "You know, not every family in the school had an equal opportunity to fill out their child's supply list. Now, not only do the kids have all their supplies, but the parents don't even have to pay for an agenda.
"Everybody just thought this was a way to make every kid feel like they're supported, no matter what background they come from. It's an opportunity for every kid on the first day of school to feel good about themselves and feel good about the school year."