Hundreds of students joined by their grateful parents received all the back to school supplies they will need to get them off on the right foot for the upcoming school year thanks in part to the efforts of the New Mount Olive Baptist Church, the Westside Gazette Newspaper, and numerous vendors representing public and private interest. The Back 2 School Kickback and Summit took place Saturday August 10 at the church. The event also provided haircuts, health screenings, food, and entertainment.
Reverend Brian Cash took a moment between directing traffic setting up booths and greeting parents and students to provide a play by play-color analysis of the festivities and purpose of the back to school event, before getting right back to work. He said that over 1,200 backpacks were on hand for distribution.
“We’re here in partnership with the Westside Gazette Newspaper, Catch 81, and the Wayne Barton Foundation, among others to support our youth. It’s essential that the church’s responsibility is to partner hand and hand with the community. We’re not just here for ourselves but, we are here to make an impact in the world,” said Reverend Cash.
Daryl and Gwen Adams waited patiently in line along with hundreds of parents and students to take advantage of free books, school supplies, book bags, food, that was just moments away. These grandparents brought their two granddaughters out on the overcast Saturday afternoon.
“This is a great event that’s going to benefit the children who might not have access to these kinds of things that can help them get started in school,” said Mrs. Adams.
Arri Henry of the Westside Gazette Newspaper kicked off the event as the Mistress of Ceremony, thanking everyone, introducing the entertainment and outlining the host of activities throughout the afternoon. “With a heart full of love and a mouth filled with thank you to everyone here, its because of you that this is such a great event.”
Charles “CJ” Jackson provided students some interesting moments as he displayed his storytelling talents which included some juggling and interaction with the kids to draw them into an imaginary world of excitement.
“Kids like to be a part of my storytelling. They don’t like boring stories. They want the stories to come alive. They want to see the story.”
Broward School Board Member, Dr. Rosalind Osgood (District 5) and Associate Pastor at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church, made the rounds taking snapshots while chatting with vendors and parents alike. She painted a very positive picture for the state of Broward County Schools pointing to a number of several measures spearheaded by School Superintendent Robert Runcie designed to streamline access to valuable information on line for parents, increased safety measures in all schools, while touting the academic achievement
across the board which brought the school system a few points shy of an A-Grade rating.
In addition, Dr. Osgood shared some of the initiatives directed by New Mount Olive Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Marcus Davidson which included establishing the Community Education Alliance. She said Pastor Davidson had integrated academic achievement throughout all the ministries of the church.
“Today we reached out to the community in collaboration with other partners including the Broward County School Board, the Westside Gazette, local colleges and universities, the Alphas, the Omegas, and sororities.”
Dr. Osgood offered some encouraging advice to parents and teachers for the upcoming school year. “Be prayerful. Continue to be diligent and focused on academic achievement of our children.”
“I live personally by the acronym, C.H.A.N.G.E., CHILDREN HAVE A NEED TO GROW EVERYDAY!”
Dr. Desmond Blackburn also was on hand to lend his support along with fellow members of Zeta Alpha Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Blackburn is the former Superintendent of Schools for Brevard County and currently President of The New Teacher’s Center. Blackburn expressed particular interest in addressing the particular needs of young Black males and the challenges they face.
“Unfortunately, not every young man has a role model- figure in the home. That’s what the community is for, the church is for, fraternities are for, that’s what the village is for. We must all do our part to help our young men out.”
Aside from addressing academic concerns, Dr. Sherie Poitier is the School Counselling Director for Broward District, Department of Juvenile Justice Involved Students. She’s also a children’s book author. She said that it is equally important to address the emotional needs of students which often go ignored.
“I feel it’s important that adults address the social and emotional components of young people. We’re always striving to help kids academically, but we miss the whole point of it. If a child is not mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy then the academic component will not happen.”
No Back to School event would be complete without having free haircuts and hairstyles. Thanks to Thomas Thompson and the Florida Academy of Health and Beauty in Oakland Park, no one would have to go to school without a “fresh cut.”
“What a spectacular event, very well organized and truly entertaining. Plenty of food and the DJ had everyone dancing. As a CSC of Broward volunteer Ambassador, I enjoyed engaging with the parents and educating them on the many services sponsored by The Children’s Services Council of Broward and providing them with Resource Guides. As a School Social Worker, I loved seeing students come out preparing for the first day of school by taking home one of the stylish bookbags, clothing, and shoes. Overall, this back to school event truly was a one stop shop!”, said a very enthusiastic Elizabeth Edwards.
Pamela Aiken is a BRACE advisor at McArthur High School in Hollywood. She coordinated the college turnout which included; Broward Community College, Lynn University, Florida A& M University, and Tuskegee University.
‘’ Today you have to introduce Generation Z to everything including 2-year, 4-year colleges, technical schools, along with the military.”
Anthony Aranha, president of Zeta Alpha Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. summed up the day’s events and why he continues to encourage other members of the Divine Nines to be community involved.
“I’ve had a number of colleagues ask, ‘Why are you still in a fraternity after so many years?’ I say our basis was founded in service to the community. It’s important that we continue that tradition and make sure we establish that presence at every turn.”
Understanding the need for a cross section of community involvement, Publisher of the Westside Gazette, Bobby R. Henry, Sr. was overly satisfied with how stakeholders of the community came through.
“I can’t say enough about the supporters who did not wavier nor Rev. Cash and the New Mount Olive Baptist Church family whose out outreach in the community is steadily growing. To the community and all of the sponsors we sincerely thank you for completing this circle of what it means to be a part of a community of love, thank you.”