More than 600 students shifted from the carefree days of summer to back-to-school mode at the Scotland County NAACP’s 12th annual Back-to-School event over the weekend.
The crowd totalled more 800 parents and children, were treated to free school supplies and advice from members of Scotland County Schools’ administrative staff and the Scotland County Board of Education.
Superintendent Rick Stout, Scotland High School Principal Beth Ammons, and Sycamore Lane Principal Rick Singletary spoke, as did school board members Darrel Gibson and Terence Williams. While encouraging students to work hard and succeed in school, officials also exhorted parents to take an active role in their children’s education.
“I encourage you to come out, even when things are going well for your son our daughter, please come out and check us out at Sycamore Lane,” Singletary said.
Willams also told the parents in attendance that they should be aware of their children’s performance in classes as well as their scores on standardized tests.
“We are preparing for an exciting school year,” said Williams. “I want to let you know that this is definitely going to be a challenge for our students, we are going to expect a higher dedication from all of our kids, and it’s important that our parents not only stay informed but be very active this school year.”
Dr. James A. McLauchlin, retired Air Force officer, teacher, and school principal, was the event’s featured speaker. He advised students that even if their report cards have more Cs and Ds than As and Bs, they can always improve.
McLauchlin related the story of Benjamin Carson, the poster child for the rewards of parental involvement. Carson went from being an undeperformer in third grade to being a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University after his mother, a third-grade dropout herself, fostered her son’s interest in reading.
“It had never been done before, never,” McLauchlin said. “A couple from Germany couldn’t find anyone who could do it, but were told about a guy over in the United States named Benjamin Carson. And he ended up being very successful… Rich kids are not smarter than poor or middle-class kids. They’re not. Maybe one of the things that rich parents do is they stay involved. So you need to stay involved.”
Sharing statistics regarding the likelihood of high school dropouts finding themselves in prison and the reduced earning power of those who leave school without a high school diploma, McLauchlin told students that the surest way to success is a strong education.
“The average earning power, the money you make, of the nation’s young people with a bachelor’s degree is three times more than a high school dropout,” McLauchlin said. “The money that you make being a high school dropout will make you stay at home for the rest of your life. In other words, you’re going to live with your parents because you will not earn enough money to realize the American dream of owning your own home or raising a family.”
To help children start their school year on the right foot, each student in attendance was given a backpack or bag full of school supplies. “This is a good thing that the communities are doing for the kids,” said parent Robert Brewer. “We try to come out and support and do everything we need to do to make sure our kids are straight. It’s a really good thing for the community to help us out, some of us need help like this, so it’s a great thing that they can do that.”
The supplies distributed on Saturday were purchased in part with a $2,000 donation from AT&T, presented during the event by John Lyon, the company’s regional director of external affairs. After the school supplies were handed out, lunch was provided by the NAACP and Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are very proud to be able to give you the tools you need to begin school and hopefully to continue, thanks to AT&T and others who have assisted us,” said Scotland County NAACP President Robert Malloy.
The Just Sisters Club, a group of retired teachers, volunteered to distributed supply bags to the appropriate grade levels during the event.
“I’m a retired educator, after 41 years, and I just want to help out because you never stop educating, and children never stop needing education,” said Gwen Rainer.