Story By: Detroit Free Press
Bands, floats, cheers set stage for DPS’ school year
Blue T-shirts flooded Woodward Avenue this morning as hundreds of people danced and cheered their way to Hart Plaza for the Detroit Public Schools’ second annual back-to-school parade.
Paraders passed out candy, literature about schools, backpacks and T-shirts to the boisterous paraders that lined Woodward. The crowd was fairly thin but didn’t lack in enthusiasm.
Darrell Wilson, 24, a 2004 graduate of Cass Technical High, cheered as the bands passed by. He and classmate Keith Selph, 36, went to watch the parade while on a break from Wayne County Community College District’s downtown campus.
“I think this is good because it will give parents motivation to bring students back to DPS and to show that DPS is trying to do something good for the city,” Wilson said.
Elected officials such as City Council President Charles Pugh, Rep. David Nathan, D-Detroit, and school board vice president Tyrone Winfrey marched on beat behind a band that preceded the final float.
Waving from the final float were Mayor Dave Bing, activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, comedian and activist Bill Cosby, and Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager under whose watch the parade was launched last year.
DPS officials are hoping the parade and other back-to-school events will help ensure enrollment is at least 77,314 this year to avoid budget cuts.
This year’s parade is bigger, louder and longer than last year’s, parade-goers said. About 40 floats and bands took part this year, according to DPS officials.
DPS parent and teacher Andrea Williams, 37, of Detroit, attended last year’s event, too.
“It’s a lot bigger and has a lot more big wigs,” she said. “DPS us still investing in itself and will turn into a great institution!”
‘I want them to stay motivated’
Earlier, as the crowd gathered, parents were hoping the parade would inspire and motivate students and families as they head back to class.
Andria Robinson of Detroit said she hopes today’s excitement lasts throughout the year.
“I want them to stay motivated. I want the teachers to teach these kids. Give them work and explain it to them,” she said.
Teresa Vaughan agreed.
“They’re getting everybody juiced up. I just don’t want it to end today.”