"Who do I work for?" Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard rhetorically asked hundreds of CPS kids on Friday. "I work for you every day," he said. "I just want one thing in return."
Brizard really works for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but the thing he asked of students at Friday's Safe Haven Summer Program is for them to just show up to class.
"[I want] you guys to come to school every single day," he emphasized, also asking for parents' help.
Safe Haven Summer Program volunteers and children wore shirts that read "Stop the Silence, Stop the Violence." The t-shirt's message and recent shooting and killing of 13-year-old Darius Brown at a park basketball court serve as reminders to the potential violence that students face.
"It's a reality check. This is violence our kids are facing everyday, gang violence and drugs," said Roosevelt Watkins with the Safe Haven Program.
Most students return to school Sept. 6. Those in the Track E early start program begin Monday. Charter school students went back this past Monday.
Earlier this week, Emanuel and Brizard went door to door, reminding parents about start dates.
It's all part of a greater Back-to-School campaign promoting student attendance.
"Excellence in education starts with excellent attendance," Emanuel said in a statement. "This is a shared goal for all of Chicago and I am heartened by Chicagoans' commitment to making this important investment in Chicago's future."