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Devils' Youth Foundation Takes Aim at Newark High School Absenteeism

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The team will reward good attendance with tickets to games and concerts

The Devils are trying to do something truly angelic — get kids to come to school. Absenteeism has been a problem at high schools in Newark, especially since the pandemic.

The team is starting a rewards program and is working with four high schools in the city. Kate Annis, head of the Devils Youth Foundation, said this is a serious problem.

“When kids are chronically absent, which is expressed as 15 or more days a year, so 3 weeks, the high school dropout rate is so high and it’s something that we really want to try and combat, working in conjunction with the Newark Public Schools,” she said.

Each month until June 10 students from each school will be selected as winners. So what are the prizes?

“We’ll give them tickets to come to games and a couple of other different really unique and fun experiences to incentivize them to come to school,” said Annis, “and then at the end we’ll do a listening tour where we’re talking with kids in conjunction with the school.”

And the big prize?

“For the one student who has the highest attendance there is a final prize in June and that is sort of a pick your own adventure, so for next season, during our next season, they’ll be able to pick a concert or any game that they wanted to come to and bring friends to and stay in a suite and have it fully catered,” said Annis.

According to the New Jersey Department of Education, 31% of Barringer High School students, 23% of students at Central High, 47% of students at Malcolm X Shabazz, and 28% of students at Weequahic High meet this criterion. Those are the four schools involved in the program.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.