Getting in the back-to-school spirit

Welcome to First Bell, a K-12 education blog where you can find helpful or interesting notes about schools across Lawrence. The first day of school is right around the corner, so here’s to putting the summer behind us and looking forward to the new school year.

New look for a new year

Construction is wrapping up at several schools around town, and for those without a hardhat, a short video tour offers the public a peek inside one of the bigger projects. The video, “A Whole New Cordley,” shows off some of the updates made to 100-year-old Cordley Elementary at 1837 Vermont St. The school’s principal, Scott Cinnamon, created the video, which was made in the likeness of an action movie trailer. Cinnamon said he thought it would be a fun way to provide the community a glimpse of the building and help promote the start of the school year. He added that he still left a few surprises for when members of the public are able to come see it for themselves. The district will host a “Parade of Schools” toward the end of September, which will include the five schools where the most significant renovations have been completed: Cordley, Hillcrest, Langston Hughes, New York and Quail Run.

Getting in the back-to-school spirit

If your kids are still in a summer mode, some upcoming events may help get them in a back-to-school mindset. The Lawrence Public Library is now taking submissions for its annual Banned Book Trading Cards Competition. All ages are welcome to create a trading card with original artwork for submission — so parents, you can also try out your art skills. Each submission should include a brief artist’s statement explaining it. More information is available on the library’s website, as well as a list of banned books in case you need some inspiration. During Banned Books Week, which is Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, all of the submitted trading cards will be displayed at the library. A panel of judges will select seven submissions for printing and distribution during Banned Books Week.

ConfabuLarryum, Lawrence’s festival of creativity, is another way to set the stage for back-to-school. The festival is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Middle School, 2734 Louisiana St. The festival, hosted by Lawrence Public Schools and Callahan Creek, includes activities, presentations, workshops and exhibits. Among the diverse attractions: 3-D printing demonstrations, giant bubbles, digital animation, and an air guitar workshop and performance. A full schedule of events is available on ConfabuLarryum’s Facebook page.

Several community organizations will be distributing free school supply kits this week to families participating in the Back2School program. The kits include school supplies and a backpack, as well as a pair of shoes for students sixth grade and below. The Back2School program is organized by The Salvation Army of Douglas County, Ballard Community Services and ECKAN.

Volunteers for First Church, one of the program’s sponsors, assembled 150 of the kits for elementary students on Monday, and will be distributing them to participants in the Back2School program on Tuesday and Wednesday at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St. The church will be hosting breakfast for the participants on Tuesday morning from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.