Operation Back-to-School hosted at Orange’s Central Playground

Photo by Chris Sykes
Orange resident Betty O’Bannion, right, stands with her granddaughters on Saturday, Aug. 25, during the city’s Back to School Backpack and School Supply Giveaway at Central Avenue Playground.

ORANGE, NJ — Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren, the recreation department and the Michelle Foundation hosted Operation Back to School at Central Playground on Saturday, Aug. 25, featuring live music, face painting, games, dancing, and food, drink, haircuts and backpacks filled with school supplies, all for free.

Betty O’Bannion and her two granddaughters were there to enjoy the festivities and receive the free supplies.

“Why not give back to the children?” asked O’Bannion on Saturday, Aug. 25. “Give it to the children. Give it to the town.”

Her granddaughters, Laylah Taylor, 9, and Jha’mira Randolph, 10, agreed. Both said math is their favorite subject in school.

“That’s the one subject that I always get right,” said Jha’mira on Saturday, Aug. 25. “I mostly get A’s and B’s. No C’s, no F’s, no D’s. Mostly A’s and B’s.”

Laylah said she likes math because she likes the multiplication tables and multiplying numbers.

“I like school because I like to learn, read books and my most favorite part is math,” she said Saturday, Aug. 25. “I like to divide, add, subtract and multiply. Three times three equals nine, which is my age.”

According to Laylah, she’s always had an affinity for mathematics.

“When I first learned how to do math, which was in first grade, I really got into it, so I asked my teacher for extra credit and, when I was doing it, I thought that math is what I should be doing and always be doing, because math is what I like,” she said. “I just like math, especially word problems. I wake up in the morning, thinking about math.”

Jha’mira will begin the fifth grade at Toussaint Louverture School in East Orange this year and Laylah will begin the fourth grade at Cicely Tyson Elementary School. They said they’re looking forward to the new school year and were grateful for the Operation Back to School event at Central Playground.

“Our mayor is Dwayne, Mr. Warren, and I want to thank him for this event,” O’Bannion said. “I’m glad I bought them out for them to enjoy. It’s all about enjoying. It’s not always good to get free stuff, because sometimes free stuff costs you a lot. Just let them enjoy. They need enjoyment.”

Laylah and Jha’mira reside in East Orange, where there have been several back-to-school events in which they participated, but they said they were glad to attend the Orange Operation Back to School event with their grandmother on Saturday, Aug. 25.

“I got an emoji book bag,” said Laylah. “That’s my backup book bag. They’re small. The little people should have the little book bags and the big people should have the big book bags, because we’re older than them.”