08/06/07 — Local church plans rally for all students, parents

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Local church plans rally for all students, parents

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 6, 2007 1:45 PM

St. Mark Church of Christ Church on West Ash Street will host a back-to-school event for parents and students Thursday from 6 until 9 p.m. in the church sanctuary and classrooms.

The pastor, Bishop Alton A Smith, said several workshops will be held for both parents and students. The event will include entertainment and a back-to-school pep rally.

"This is for all the schools in Wayne County. It's not just for the inner city schools," he said. "Our goal is to provide information and let them know they do not have to die young, that there are opportunities for successful living."

Education is the key, Smith said. He said he has found that some parents don't understand their children's test results when they bring them home. And for those parents, one of the workshops will clarify that issue.

Many local churches are involved in the program, which is called back-to-school stay-in-school. Smith said his church is just hosting the event for them all. Each of the churches does individual things to give their students incentives to make good grades and stay in school.

The back-to-school stay-in-school event is going to be one of more than 30 being held in churches, schools and community centers throughout the nation, said NAACP President Sylvia Barnes, who is actively involved in the planning of the event.

The back-to-school stay-in-school event is one of several being held as part of the Stop the Funeral Initiative currently underway in Wayne County. Other events planned include another education session in the fall and events in October and in the winter.

Dr. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, said 38 congregations are involved in the initiative, which began in May and June with 60 days of prayer and fasting. A community prayer walk followed in July and drew hundreds of people, he said.

"It's a two-year initiative," he said.

He said research has shown 66 percent of those entering the ninth grade statewide did not earn a diploma. Students staying in school is the answer, he said. Dropping out of school lowers a young adult's potential for earning money, and it has worse effects than that.

"A drop-out is more likely to drop into the criminal justice system or be stuck in a low-wage job that provides no health care or job security," Barber said. "To reduce crime and poverty, we have to fight to keep kids in school."