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Pastor Luke Harbaugh of Spry Church blesses the backpacks of returning school students John A. Pavoncello, York Dispatch

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The school year is quickly approaching, with most students returning this week in York County.

Shawn Fink, a parent of twin girls going into seventh grade this year at West York Area Middle School, says they have been ready since the end of July.

"They don't want summer to end," she said, but she knows they also are looking forward to getting back into a routine.

"There's something to having that sense of order in a week," Fink added.

As a final hurrah before the work ahead, several districts and schools planned kickoff events for students, staff and the community.

York City School District will  join efforts with York City and the York YMCA for the United Back to School Resource Fair from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at Penn Park, in York City.

The event features free food (from noon to 2 p.m.), a book bag giveaway and lots of activities including a bounce house, face painting, family games, basketball drills and a splash pad.

On Monday, Aug. 20, York City School District invites the community to welcome its freshmen, starting at 7:30 a.m., at William Penn Senior High School's gym entrance on West Princess Street. 

Three years ago, the event began as a launch of the Freshman Academy, and now it's a chance to make high school special for the incoming class. Students will hear from the school board and administration as well as York City Mayor Michael Helfrich and a state representative.

West York Area School District has a tradition of welcoming back its administrators, faculty and staff in style. On Monday, from 8 to 11 a.m., all personnel are invited to walk the red carpet at the main entrance of the high school.

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York County School of Technology has two student-oriented kickoff events. Ninth-graders will assemble at John Rudy County Park in East Manchester Township on Wednesday, Aug. 22, for team-building activities at the Spartan Jam — a partnership with Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12.

The same day, 10th-graders will gather at the school for Get Real Day, an event that "empowers students to 'get real' and take action in addressing incidents of bias, hateful words and actions," said spokeswoman Mary Godin.

York Academy Regional Charter School is holding its annual back-to-school 5K for the sixth year. Hosted by the school's parent-teacher organization, the event funds activities and classroom supplies throughout the year. It starts at the school, 32 W. North St., in York City, and runs from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. 

Deals and giveaways: The community also has a host of deals, giveaways and events in honor of back-to-school season.

Students can arrive at school with a fresh look after receiving free back-to-school haircuts. Boost Mobile York, 701 Loucks Road, in York City, is offering cuts from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19 for anyone with a school or college ID. The first 20 will also receive a school supplies kit.

York City will be giving free haircuts at 14 locations across the city on Sunday. Visit Lincoln Charter School's Facebook page for more information. 

The York City School District has a back-to-school fundraiser to support a senior trip for the class of 2020. Ten dollars buys a back-to-school message or advertisement to run in rotation on the high school's LED sign through Aug. 30.

The West York Church of the Brethren, 5101 Darlington Road, in Jackson Township, is giving away free bags of school supplies to anyone in need from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

And Saubel's Markets, 3611 E. Market St., in Springettsbury Township, is having a Back to School Stock Up Sale through 7 p.m. Sunday, with varying times each day.

Some local businesses and community groups organized their own events to celebrate the new school year. 

Leg Up Farmer's Market, 3100 N. George St., in Manchester Township, encourages younger children to come by from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday for free activities, including a group painting.

Kids can take a load off with a movie at Lehr Park, 3700 Davidsburg Road, in Dover Township, with Dover Township Recreation's showing of "Coco" from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25. 

The Back to School Bash at Boscov's at the York Galleria, 2899 Whiteford Road, in Springettsbury Township, is a free event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, featuring a photo stop, crafts, games, snacks and a chance to win a $100 shopping spree.

Immunizations: Parents should  make sure students have all required immunizations for the start of school. The state updated its immunization requirements before the 2017-18 school year, and there have been no changes for this fall.

All students must have their first doses of required vaccines by the first day of school, and all subsequent doses in five days or submit a plan for scheduling doses, if not medically appropriate in that timeframe.

Students may be exempt from requirements for medical, religious or moral/philosophical reasons.

York County School of Technology has an added requirement of a second dose of the meningitis vaccine prior to the start of the school year for those currently in 11th grade. 

South Eastern School District will provide flu shots to students with or without health insurance, in partnership with the Health Hero PA Student Flu Vaccine program, on Oct. 3. And those without a family dentist can receive a school dental exam from the Family First Dental Program.

Starting this year, West Shore School District will require dental evaluations for first-, third- and seventh-graders, and the district can no longer provide fluoride tablets to students who do not already the chemical in their home water source.

First Day of School: 

Monday, Aug. 20:

  • South Western (K-9)
  • York City (1-12)

Tuesday, Aug. 21:

  • Dover Area freshmen
  • Northeastern
  • Red Lion Area
  • South Eastern
  • Spring Grove Area freshmen
  • York County School of Technology (new students)
  • York City (Pre-K and kindergarten)
  • South Western (10-12)

Wednesday, Aug. 22:

  • Central York
  • Christian School of York
  • Dallastown freshmen
  • Dover Area
  • Eastern York
  • Southern York County (K-9)
  • Spring Grove Area
  • West York Area (K-6, 9 and new students)
  • York County School of Technology (9-10)
  • York Suburban (K-5, 6, 9 and new students)
  • Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 (York Learning Center)
  • York Catholic High School (seventh grade)
  • Keystone Christian Academy

Thursday, Aug. 23:

  • Dallastown
  • Hanover Public
  • Southern York County (10-12)
  • West York Area
  • York County School of Technology
  • York Suburban 
  • York Catholic High School (8-12)

Monday, Aug. 27:

  • Northern York County
  • West Shore

Tuesday, Aug. 28:

  • Shrewsbury Christian Academy (Aug. 29 for Pre-K through 4)
  • York Country Day School

Lincoln and York Academy Regional charter schools welcomed students Aug. 13, with kindergarten starting Aug. 14 for York Academy.

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