Area students gear up for back to school

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2000

As the back-to-school rush gets under way, many area children and their parents are heading out to retailers like ShopKo, Staples and Kmart for supplies.

Monday, August 28, 2000

As the back-to-school rush gets under way, many area children and their parents are heading out to retailers like ShopKo, Staples and Kmart for supplies.

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Wandering down the numerous aisles, children frantically search for their favorite notebooks and folders.

This year Pokemon, Jansport and Nike appear to be the big sellers, according to Laurie Dittberner, a clerk at Staples.

Dittberner explained that Staples will be having week-to-week specials on certain items, but that they don’t know the specifics until receiving fliers from their corporate office.

Depending on your shopping style, you could find a great many bargains while at Staples; prices range from as little as a dollar to $40 for some of their backpacks.

Jansport appears to be a popular item there, as well, however, they also carry generic brands such as Extreme.

The hottest items this year, according to Dittberner, are compasses and protractors, calculators, notebooks, zipper binders and pencil bags.

Tissues, believe it or not, also are popular; especially among younger children.

If you prefer one-stop shopping at ShopKo, Barb Selmecki, who works in the school supply department, said there are a number of items on children’s must-have lists for fall.

The top five items, according to Selmecki, are notebooks, especially in neon colors; fashion notebooks and folders, with characters such as Pokemon gracing the cover; locker accessories such as mirrors and shelf units; backpacks from makers such as Jansport and Nike; and calculators.


Calculators are an item, Selmecki noted, that seem to be on the list of back-to-school supplies from sixth grade on.

"They’re something that’s used more in schools now," Selmecki said.

Another item favored by children are the gel pens that come in a variety of neon colors.

"They’re super hot this year," Selmecki remarked.

However, Selmecki also said that she’d been told they’re not recommended in schools because they work best on dark paper; in most classrooms, white filler paper is used.

Jeanne McDermott, principal of Ellis Middle School, said that parents received a notice that these pens are not to be brought to school.

"The thought is we use blue pens and black pens," McDermott said. "This is school; this is your job."

Part of the reasoning, McDermott explained, is that it’s difficult to read, but also, there is a standard for work produced.

Like Staples, ShopKo also has back-to-school bargains in their advertisements.

Another big feature, as Selmecki explained, is that schools are now giving parents lists of items their children need to start off the year.

Since the lists have been distributed, Selmecki said she’s noticed a lot of parents and children coming in to bargain shop.

This is the time of year these items are cheapest.

If parents need a copy for their children, ShopKo has several available upon entering the store.

Over at Kmart, parents and students can find items with everything from Pokemon to Barbie and Scooby-Doo likenesses on them.

According to Wendy Neville, a Kmart employee, backpacks from Northwest Territory are big sellers, along with Brights, which are fluorescent notebooks and pens.

Fluorescent is especially popular this year, as Neville also said you can find crayons, pens and pencils in this style.

Kmart, like the others, also has the lists available for parents near the back-to-school supplies.

Parents, Neville said, stay by this list, but the older kids also may get into the brights.

McDermott added that teachers are looking at letting students substitute the expandable file keeper for the three-ring binders.

While they need to have at least seven pockets in them, they’re more durable than paper and help children keep organized. Also, since they’re not as bulky as Trapper Keepers, they fit better in lockers.

McDermott feels that the new procedure will be successful.

"It seemed to work out well with children that tried it last year," she said.