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New Chapter For CPS Begins Monday With First Day Of School

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A new chapter in Chicago Public School history begins Monday, as thousands of kids will begin classes at schools they've never attended. On Sunday, many of them celebrated.

CBS 2's Derrick Blakley spent the day with families preparing for the first day of classes.

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At Cain's Barber College, all the buzz was about back to school with free haircuts for boys and free hairdos for girls, boosting esteem and hopefully their grades.

"Children tend not to go to school on the first day due to personal hygiene issues, whether its haircut, having the proper clothing and school supplies," said Bamani Obadele of the Greater Roseland Community Committee.

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But in the wake of 50 school closures, there's new worry this year about student safety.

Student Malachi Wilson said he is concerned about safety getting to his new school saying, "There could be a gunfight."

Malachi Wilson's old school, Overton, closed in June.

"Like a lot of people are dying in Chicago," said Wilson.

Now, he's shifting to Mollison at 44th and King.

"Right now, I'm going to walk to school with him to keep him safe," said Tina Reese, Wilson's grandmother.

Part of the safe passage route between the two schools is on lively 47th Street, where the street life surrounding the businesses can be unsavory.

"We've got some businesses that need watching and we've had some issues with and we're cracking the whip on them as well," said 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.

Shops on 47th cleaning up today before the big day tomorrow, but whatever the problems, Malachi's grandma won't tolerate talk of a boycott.

"Our kids need all the education they can get," said Reese.

Eight South Side barber shops and hair salons took part in today's "Free Hair Cut and Style Day". It was the 12th year for the event, which was started by the founder of Cain's Barber College, but when cps classes resume tomorrow, the focus shifts from style to safety.

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