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Once again, we’ve arrived at that dark, foreboding time of year—the end of summer.

Frigid winds and driving snow wait on the horizon, ready to brutally crush whatever lingering memories of summer fun you might have. And for all the young people of Milwaukee, it’s time for school. So here are a few things students and parents should know before they hop on the roller coaster ride that is another school year.

New Start Date

The foremost way to benefit from school is, I would argue, to attend school. In years past, all Milwaukee Public Schools started around the same time: firmly lodged next to Labor Day. This year, after the Milwaukee Board of School Directors passed a unanimous vote, all MPS high schools, middle schools, and a few elementary schools will start three weeks earlier, on August 14.

Some schools will still follow the traditional school year and start on September 5. To check which day your school starts, go to the MPS website.

Uniforms

Another big change this year is uniforms. Students will strut on into the first day of class wearing color-coordinated, clean-cut clothing chosen by each individual school. The new policy is meant to improve the learning environment. A uniform fair in July offered students the chance to purchase some new uniforms, and a list of vendors, as well as school-specific guidelines, is also available on the MPS website.

Supplies

Pencils and markers and notebooks and all that jazz—every year, parents have to gather up these various implements of academic success. MPS provides a useful chart for necessary supplies, and plenty of local and chain stores offer back-to-school sales. And if you happen to have an abundance of school supplies, maybe consider donating some to charity groups like the Salvation Army, who run drives during this time of year.

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Free Driver’s Ed

If you’re approaching age 16 in Wisconsin, you probably have a major stepping stone of adulthood on your mind—the driver’s license. The process behind taking driver’s ed, passing your written exam, getting your temp license, taking lessons and eventually taking your official test can be a pain sometimes. Especially if the DMV computers crash and you—just a humble 16-year-old waiting for a chance at freedom—have to wait for four hours after the test to get the license.

This year, Milwaukee students participating in a new initiative, MPS Drive, only have to pay $35 for their learner’s permit and will receive a free driver’s education. The program aims to break down the driver’s license barrier, which can often hinder post-high school success. Keep this opportunity in mind, high-schoolers.

Early Summer

For those of you abandoning August early and heading to school on the 14th, just remember that it’ll be summer again quicker than you can say, “time is a flat circle,” and you’ll be out of class again on May 18, 2018. Not only will you get to enjoy all of June, you’ll also get half of that beautiful spring month of May. More importantly, MPS is now offering an optional “credit recovery and enrichment program” during June, which will allow students to make up for any credits they need.

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