Truant Kids to Get Wake-Up Calls from Celebs

Ring Ring. Hello? It's Trey Songz. Wake up and go to school.

By Paul DeBenedetto
|  Thursday, Feb 10, 2011  |  Updated 4:00 PM EDT
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Truant Kids to Get Wake-Up Calls from Celebs

A new program aimed at lowering the city's chronic absentee rate has recruited celebrities to record phone messages for truant students.

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Thousands of NYC schoolkids who have skipped a lot of school will be getting a real wake-up call.

Mayor Bloomberg's administration has recruited celebrities to record calls that will be blasted out to truant pupils starting next week.

Magic Johnson, Jose Reyes, Trey Songz and Big Boi are among those who have donated their time -- and their voices -- to the campaign, called WakeUp!NYC.

"What up, it's your boy Trey Songz," one message begins. "If you're a student, get your butt to school."

"Morning! It's me, Magic Johnson," starts another. "School got me where I am today, so be there every single day, and of course, give it your best shot."

To hear the full wake-up call from Magic, click here. And from Trey Songz, here.

The program is part of the city's attempt to lower the rate of chronic absenteeism in the nation's largest school system.

More than 6,500 students who have missed 10 or more days this academic year will soon receive a phone or email message informing them about the program. Kids have the choice of opting out, but if they don't, they will get the calls.

After an introductory period, the campaign will expand to some 250,000 kids citywide.

Students will also receive congratulatory "good news" calls when they show a marked improvement in attendance.

"We’re putting on a full-court press, using mass media and digital media to drive home the point that every student should be in school every day," Bloomberg said in a statement.

The program was developed by the mayor's task force on absenteeism. The mayor created the task force last summer as a way to recognize early signs of truancy throughout the school system. According to the city, about 20 percent of kids missed one month of school or more last academic year.

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