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Schools, community 'call to action'

By Johnny Jackson

"First-day jitters," Kevin Sanders said, explaining his half-hour experience consoling a young student outside her elementary school.

The eight-year-old girl burst into tears nearly petrified, as many students are their first day of school, Sanders said.

Her name fails him, though, he recollects vivid impressions of the anxious student he supported a year ago as a volunteer in Project Day One.

Sanders, a market executive for RBC Centura Bank, said he is eager to repeat his supportive role this year with other volunteers from the community.

"We are a part of the community, and we wanted the kids to know that we were a part of the community," he said, referring to business leaders and other volunteers.

As a part of an annual event called Project Day One, sponsored by Clayton County Public Schools, students will appreciate greetings and support from members of their communities.

The project is geared towards students, welcoming them back to school and showing support from the school system and the community, said Mack Bullard, director of student services for Clayton County Public Schools.

This year's theme is "A Celebration of Learning." School officials hope to improve upon Project Day One, this, its second year.

Bullard boasted about the successful turnout of nearly 400 volunteers last year.

"We have a goal for 600 volunteers to be assigned to all of our schools," he said. "We want to have at least 10 volunteers per school."

Bullard said that volunteers will be invited to eat a small continental breakfast after they meet with school officials in recognition of their community support.

"The whole community is synergized in supporting our schools," he said. "Our goal is to keep in contact with those volunteers throughout the year and have them do various things in support of our students."

"We felt that it promoted a tremendous continuity to the students and the community," said Gregory Ward, minister of local mission at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro. "We're going to take part again this year to show our undying support. That is a part of our mission statement.

"We were shocked at the receptivity of the students," Ward said. "I think it was very settling for students as well as the teachers. It promoted a level of peace.

"We were elated to see those children in that environment and the students seemed elated to see us show our support."

According to Bullard, financial contributions will help supply a $20,000 budget for purchasing school supplies for the nearly 52,000 students in Clayton County.

"People often ask, 'what can I do to help our schools and students?'" he said. "Now we have an opportunity the very first day of school to support our schools and students.

"If you are a supporter of the students and the school system, this is your chance."

He said that the Chamber of Commerce has asked its members to place "Welcome Back to School" on their marquee signs and in their business windows.

"You can't have an effective school system or an effective school in isolation," Bullard said. "You have to involve the community."

Those who wish to volunteer in "Project Day One" may call Charles White at 707-472-8437. Send any financial contributions and supply donations to 2270 Mt. Zion Rd., Jonesboro, GA 30236.