By Greg Gelpi
A "large force" of more than 65 parent volunteers are performing clerical work and monitoring the halls of Mundy's Mill High School as the school community unites and tightens security.
Heightened security is visible in all Clayton County high schools in wake of a string of school-related violence, and the parental support at Mundy's Mill is only one sign of the community's response.
More than 1,000 parents and members of the community filled the school's common area last month only days after the death of one of the school's students, Larry Bishop Jr., 18. Bishop was killed April 23 after a school fight spilled over into the weekend. He was shot along with three others at a party in Jonesboro.
Parental involvement is "crucially important," Mundy's Mill High School Principal Anthony Smith said.
Building on the momentum of community unity, Smith said that a Mundy's Mill Family Day will be held at the school from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 21.
"The purpose is to come together," he said. "We're trying to come together as a community."
Parental involvement is an "integral component" of education, Smith said.
"The sentiment is overwhelmingly in support of these things," Smith said, calling the fight that precipitated the killing an isolated incident at a school rich in accomplishments. "It's going to unite the community."
The school is trying to "soar" from being good to being great, he said. The school will continue its success "in spite of" an incident that happened in "10 minutes away from school."
"The toughest part is having to explain to students that this too will pass," Smith said of the tragic events.
To assist schools in securing campuses, the school system purchased four metal-detecting wands for each high school, school spokesman Charles White said. The wands have been delivered and officials are planning training sessions for the wands.
The wands will be used "randomly" as a "deterrent," White said, as well as when school staff has "reasonable suspicion."
In efforts to restrict access and monitor schools better, visitors to schools are greeted as they walk through the front doors of high schools at a table perched just inside the doorway.
Visitors must now show picture identification and sign in as school resource officers, parents and staff closely monitor the entrances and hallways.
The increased security is only part of measures by the school system to reassure parents of their children's safety. Other measures include a pilot program that is using dogs to search three high schools for contraband, including guns.
Law enforcement are still looking for those responsible for Bishop's death. Clayton County Board of Education member Wendell "Rod" Johnson is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the capture and arrest of his killers.
"I understand that we're getting a lot more leads now," Johnson said of the reward.
Anyone with information, should call (770) 477-3648.