When the students from Long Cane Elementary jumped on stage with excitement in their eyes and boldness in their voices while giving their poetry recital and individual precepts from “I Am Somebody”, the crowd waited in anticipation to give cheers of appreciation and claps of approval. The eagerness was the same for Nathan Shelton from Berta Weathersbee Elementary for his original poetry reading…and for The Mary Poppins Cast from LaGrange High School as they gave a vocal performance for “Anything Can Happen”.
There was no doubt that the Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative celebration of Preparing for Greatness: Empowering Our Youth to Change the World was a success. The Troup County School System (TCSS) and the Troup County Literacy Warriors presented the joint effort that was held at Troup High Fine Arts Auditorium. The event was headed by Emmanuel Reddish, TCSS Literacy Coach. Reddish said, “This event had two major purposes. One was to encourage literacy around Troup County, with the school system taking the lead. The second purpose was to bring the community together, as a whole, for unity.”
The celebration was a family-friendly, free event to the public. With over 700 seats available, the auditorium was standing room only just moments before the event began with an introduction by district leaders.
Dr. Penny Johnson, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum Instruction and Professional Learning, said, “We are proud to see the community rally behind literacy and unity. Our students did an outstanding job with their performances. This event shows that we have talent right here at home because the spoken word and other vocal performances were all top notch. It was a wonderful sight to see.”
This was a student-led event according to Reddish, “I reached out to school and district leaders who was familiar with students that would be interested in performing. For example, the elementary schools leaned more toward the literary readings and poetry. The middle and high schools brought more entertainment through singing and performances, but there were still literacy components. Allowing the students to choose what they wanted to present was a good way to have a well-rounded program,” he stated.
Grant Thrailkill, Troup High School student, led God Bless the USA during the school’s vocal performance. He said, “I feel being a part of this program was important because Martin Luther King, Jr. was an important person in history. This was a thought provoking event. I was singing God Bless the USA and some of the words go hand-in-hand to what he stood for.”
One attendee was so proud of the message for unity and literacy to shatter all barriers that she began to cry as she spoke to school system employees. Others felt the event was well organized and showcased the talent of our young people throughout the county. Kevin Henderson said he was invited by students so he decided to attend. “The program was awesome – seeing that it involved the whole Troup County School System was a great, great, great display of what is to come for the future of our kids.”