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The school year started this week for most area students. It is an opportunity to begin anew, to forget last year’s bad habits and replace them with positive practices.

Regrettably, a key component to students’ success is sometimes missing from the picture — the involvement of parents. It is vital that parents take an interest in their children, in their schoolwork, their extracurricular activities and their peers.

Teachers are important, but they can do only so much. To give children a greater chance of success, parents must help with homework, provide healthy breakfasts and lunches, attend parent/teacher conferences and open houses, cheer them on at athletic events and concerts, provide structure and discipline, and get to know their friends.

Numerous studies have found that the main ingredient lacking in the lives of struggling students is parental involvement. We realize most parents today — fathers and mothers — are working long hours to make ends meet, but it is critical that parents dedicate the time necessary help children accomplish their goals.