District releases school supply list by grade level

Supply donations come in from out of state

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS When 1984 Marshalltown High School graduate Kim Bielawski heard about the tornado that hit her home town, she wanted to do something to help. Now an associate superintendent at Raytown School District in Missouri, Bielawski and a group of volunteers from Raytown and Marshalltown helped unload about 400 school supply kits from a U-Haul trailer Thursday evening.

For many school children, August seem to have come too fast, with back-to-school commercials and sales popping up ahead of the first day of classes Aug. 23.

That also means parents are readying to get their students geared-up for the coming year.

“I think it’s just important to know, as a parent, that basic is fine,” said Marshalltown Schools Director of Instruction Lisa Stevenson. “There’s no need to buy the expensive versions of any of those items.”

Another way some parents can save money on back-to-school items is to reuse last year’s supplies.

“They reuse the scissors, they reuse the notebooks that weren’t completely used up and they put those in a pile to keep and recycle in August and just fill in the difference,” Stevenson said.

The supply lists are currently available at individual buildings and online at the district website. The lists are given by grade level, and Stevenson said a lot of work goes into developing them.

“We start talking about them in the winter, by January, because we try to get the kindergarten list ready for kindergarten registration that we do in February, we like to be able to share that with parents,” she said.

The biggest change to this year’s list is the addition of headphones with a microphone.

“In the past, we would buy like a classroom set of headphones for the kids,” Stevenson said. After getting teachers’ input, she said it was decided that it was not sanitary to have students share headphones with microphones and that they would last longer if each student had their own.

The headphone-microphone pieces don’t have to be high-end, Stevenson said. A pair of earbuds with a small, built-in microphone would work for students doing audio and oral language exercises on their chromebooks.

“The other thing, too, that’s a little bit of a change is that parents aren’t being asked to provide Kleenexes or Ziploc bags,” Stevenson said.

Getting supplies to kids

Not every family in Marshalltown can afford to buy new school supplies before the year begins. There are efforts in town to get free school supplies into the hands of kids who need them.

Community members donated several supplies to the district, but a large chunk of donations has also come in from out of state.

“I heard of the tornado, my family and friends that are still here emailing … that everyone was affected, and I was speaking with my leadership team and we knew we wanted to do something,” said Kim Bielawski, a 1984 Marshalltown High School graduate and assistant superintendent for the Raytown School District in Missouri.

She and several volunteers drove 250 miles to Marshalltown to drop off about 400 school supply kits at St. Paul’s Preschool, 201 E. Church St., Thursday evening. The kits will be sorted out from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 6-8 for later distribution to the community.

“It’s papers and pencils and markers and glue and rulers and all of that,” Bielawski said of the kits. “You feel so helpless from so far away, so just trying to do something small, like that, to take that burden off of families is the least I can do to help.”

She said she was immediately inspired to help the school district that got her interested in her current career.

“It just feels like paying it forward for the great education I got here in Marshalltown — so many of the teachers that I had is what inspired me to become a teacher and administrator,” Bielawski said.

Along with the donations from Raytown, the annual House of Compassion Stuff the Bus effort is also under way across town. Those supplies will also be stored at St. Paul’s Preschool and sorted into backpacks for students affected by the tornado and for HoC clients.

Distribution of those items will take place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 11 and 3-7 p.m. Aug. 13.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com