With a few days to spare before the start of the new school year, many Newark families spent Thursday afternoon at the Schools Stadium football field, picking up free school supplies and backpacks at the school district’s second Back to School Rally.

The free event was hosted by the Newark Board of Education and created in coordination with other community organizations.

Students at the event enjoyed one of their last summer afternoons listening to music and playing games with each other, while their parents learned information about the upcoming school year.

We asked students and their parents what they are looking forward to most and what they hope will be improved in schools next year. Here’s what they told us.

Want to add your voice? Reach out!


Viaichel Castro, 13, is a ninth-grader at Newark Vocational High School.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

I would really like to join a sport this year because I haven’t done anything like that before. I just want to take part in the action.

What are some issues that you are hoping are addressed this year?

I would just hope there is better communication from school administration to students. For example, any events and information that we need to know, sometimes it doesn’t reach us, and that’s information that’s valuable.


Gowtham Chettipalle’s 4-year-old daughter Kalista will be attending pre-K at Newark Community Charter School.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

She wants to learn more practical skills, like reading and all of those things, so we’re hoping she can learn that next year.

What are some issues that you are hoping are addressed this year?

Nothing, really. She’s learning more communication skills every year. We’re just hoping that continues.

Senior Jayden Jarvis, 17, and junior Corey Walker, 16, attend Barringer High School.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

Jayden: I’m hoping to get honor roll during my high school career, so that’s what I’m striving for this year to get scholarships for school.

Corey: I’m just focused on staying out of trouble, getting honor roll, and having a good football year, too. Also, we have a new principal this year.

What are some issues that you are hoping are addressed this year?

Jayden: I hope the teachers are more interactive with the students and help us learn.

Corey: Same here, but we need better security guards, too.


Lillian Salazar’s daughter, Genesis, 10, is a fifth-grader at McKinley School.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

Lillian: I’m looking forward to a better education — every year there’s a different teacher and they’re doing a great job. I hope they keep up the good work. Each year she’s getting better.

Genesis: Learning art!

What are some issues that you are hoping are addressed this year?

Lillian: They’re doing better in regard to bullying. In the beginning, she was having trouble with bullying, but hopefully, they’re going to do more to prevent bullying this year.

Shalanda Pannell’s daughter, Ryann, 10, is a fifth-grader at KIPP Rise Academy charter school.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

Shalanda: This is a new school for her, so I’m looking forward to better structure, new and improved curriculum, fresh and eager teachers, teachers who are happy to be teachers… just looking forward to a new year.

Ryann: I’m excited about being more active and playing basketball and track.

What are some issues that you are hoping are addressed this year?

Shalanda: I hope they collaborate more, between charter schools and public schools. We separate them, and so if we would merge together to work together, I think that collaboration would be great.