July 27, 2013 10:46:32 PM
Sarah Fowler - firstname.lastname@example.org
Parking lots in Columbus were filled to near capacity Saturday as parents took advantage of the annual sales tax holiday for their back to school shopping.
Most local students will begin school next week and parents said the opportunity to buy school clothes and supplies tax free was an opportunity not to be missed.
"It helps a lot," Casey Pearson said as she was shopping for school uniforms for her daughters Skylar, 9, and Jordyn, 5. Both girls attend school in West Point, but Pearson came to Columbus to shop at K-Mart.
"It's tax free plus K-Mart has a big sale. It's double savings," she said.
Pearson said the family began shopping for back to school supplies Saturday.
"We just started today," she said. "We have two school supply lists that are about a page long and now we're working trying to get uniforms. We have to try everything on because they grow so fast. It's frustrating but exciting all at the same time.
Skylar Pearson said she is looking forward to going back to school and starting fourth grade August 6.
"I really do like school because I like to learn and stuff but I also like to play a lot," she said. "I like meeting my new teacher."
Syklar's younger sister chimed in and said she was excited to play on her school's new playground.
"I like naptimes and the playground," Jordyn said.
Patonya Thomas was also shopping the school uniform section at K-Mart Saturday morning. Thomas was buying uniforms for her two children Racshod, 7, and Riconya, 11, who attend Fairview Elementary.
Thomas said while she was buying the standard white uniform shirts, she hoped her children would be able to add purple and gold shirts to their uniform selection. During the June meeting of the Columbus Municipal School Board, the board voted to survey parents on the option of adding purple and gold shirts as well as school spirit T-shirts to the dress code.
Thomas said she loved the idea of switching from the required white shirts.
"I love it because white shirts, to me, kids make a bigger mess out of white shirts," she said. "Then they get a chance to change out colors."
Riconya said she too, hoped she would be able to wear purple and gold shirts to school.
"Sometimes you get tired of wearing the (white) uniforms," she said.
The fifth grader added that she was excited to go back to school but she wishes summer was a little longer, saying, "I like taking tests out of the workbooks but I wish summer was a little longer."
Racshod said he was ready to get back to school because he enjoys math. "I like math, subtraction and reading and tests," he said.
Barbara Byrd was also shopping at K-mart but was shopping for school supplies. Her children Caden, 7, Katie, 12, and Austin, 15, attend a private school in Carrolton, Ala. where uniforms are not required.
"We're finishing up with school clothes and getting a few supplies," she said.
Bryd said the tax free weekend is a huge incentive to shop for her family. She added that they will shop in Mississippi for the tax free weekend this weekend and then shop in Alabama for their tax free weekend.
"We actually shop Columbus and then wait on Alabama's tax free (weekend) and then shop Tuscaloosa," she said. "With three kids, you kind of have to space it out."
Katie is going into the seventh grade but because she goes to a private school in Alabama, the seventh grade booster is not required. A new Mississippi law requires all seventh graders receive a DTAP booster shot.
Across town, Dennis Cunningham was shopping with his two children at the Children's Place. Cunningham's son Bradley is going into seventh grade at Caledonia and is required to get the DTAP shot. Bradley will not be able to get the shot before school begins and his father said the doctor's office will have to send a letter to the school saying he is scheduled to get the shot.
"We've got an appointment after school starts," Cunningham said. "We couldn't get an appointment before school starts because they're so booked. Now we have to pay $10 to get them to fax something to the school saying that he's got an appointment."
Cunningham is shopping for Bradley and his two daughters, Alexis, 14, and Caley, 5. The family spent the majority of Saturday shopping for back to school supplies.
"We enjoy it, we're always doing stuff, we're always shopping, especially with two girls," he said.
Melinda Hardin was shopping with her mother Marlene Langford, her daughter Autumn and her infant son. Autumn attends East Webster Elementary. Hardin said the family came to Columbus to take advantage of the sales and the tax free weekend.
"Columbus has a Children's Place and an Old Navy. We don't have a mall," Hardin said.
"Everything is marked down for back to school and then tax free on top of that definitely helps."
Autumn said she hoped her mom bought her clothes in her favorite color, "neon blue."
Saturday morning the family was mainly shopping for school clothes. Hardin said she had a difficult time finding many items on her daughter's list when she tried to buy school supplies last year during tax free weekend.
"We have not handled school supplies yet, she said. Last year, last time we tried getting school supplies on the tax free weekend and it was insane. They were out of everything."
Kaiya Palmer, 13 and her mother Lori Palmer were shopping for binders at Office Depot Saturday. Kaiya Palmer, who is entering eight grade at New Hope Middle School, said she does not yet have a school supply list but was shopping based on what she needed last year.
Lori Palmer also has a son entering first grade and said Saturday was the first time she began shopping for supplies.
"It's two separate lists, of course they have the list here for the elementary, and she's just going based on what she did last year," Lori Palmer said.
While the Lowndes County School board originally passed a motion to approve uniforms for the 2013-2014 school year, that vote was later rescinded. Lori Palmer said she doesn't have a preference on the uniform policy.
"I was fine with uniforms. It was an either way kind of thing," she said
Kaiya, however, was quick to say, "I didn't like uniforms."
Kaiya said she is looking forward to starting eight grade and said, besides playing softball, the best thing about starting her last year in middle school is now she will be considered the senior class.
"I'm not going to be the lowest level," she said.
The Palmers said they planned to spend the rest of Saturday like many other families in Columbus--shopping.
"We'll just be roaming, seeing what's going on and seeing what we can find. I was headed to Tuscaloosa but then when I found out it was tax free weekend I thought we would just stay put."
Tax free weekend ended at midnight last night.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah