By Justin Boron
Clayton County Public School officials and several community members are praying for a fresh start of the school year.
School ended this year in the shadow of two shooting deaths of students, one who would have graduated.
But those at the prayer service at Jonesboro First United Methodist Church Sunday had high hopes for the upcoming school year. The service brought together teachers, school administrators, elected officials, and law enforcement officers to pray for the upcoming school year, which begins Aug. 8.
Rev. Charles Robinson, the senior pastor at the church, read a passage detailing God's ubiquitous presence within people and reminded the congregation of children's importance.
"These children are valuable now because they are made in God's image, but they are also valuable for who they are going to become," he said.
Local officials led prayers for students, teachers, and parents.
Juvenile Judge Steve Teske gave the prayer for the students. He attributed a decline in activity in his court to community's unity following the students' shooting deaths.
"We have a duty and an obligation to look for those who are in need in our school system," he said.
The church also had a prayer vigil planned until 11:30 p.m.
Robinson called on the entire community to address the problems at schools.
"Regardless of political party, religious views, race or cultural background, we believe that we all must come together to find solutions to problems of hatred, bigotry, injustice and violence. Whether or not someone has children in public schools or are involved in the educational system, their prayers are needed," he said.