By Curt Yeoman
The residents of Clayton County are invited to attend a parade over the Memorial Day weekend.
There will be marching bands and people riding in cars on Saturday, but this parade will not be held to honor soldiers who have died in combat. Rather, this parade will be in honor of a small group of Jonesboro High School students who have proven themselves to be one of the nation's elite, academic groups - The Jonesboro High School Mock Trial team.
The parade will be a celebration of Jonesboro High's second consecutive mock trial national championship. The team became the second school in national mock trial competition history to win more than one national title, on May 10 in Wilmington, Del.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m., and it will run down McDonough Road in Jonesboro from the Historic Courthouse to Jonesboro High School. It is expected to last no more than an hour from the time it begins in downtown Jonesboro, to when it ends at the school. The intersection of McDonough Road and Highway 138 will be closed briefly as the parade approaches, and will reopen immediately after the celebration passes by.
"When I found out we were going to get a parade, I was really excited," said Dominique Delgado, a junior on the mock trial team. "A lot of people don't know that much about mock trial, so this is a great opportunity to show everyone what it is all about."
Team members this year are Delgado, Brian Bady, Miguelande Charlestin, Kayla Daniels, Lindsay Hargis, Bridget Harris, Jayda Hazell, Jurod James, Avion Jackson, Jurod James, Tabias Kelly, Adrienne Marshall, Braeden Orr, Laura Parkhouse, Joe Strickland, and Ralph Wilson. The teacher-coaches are Anna and Andrew Cox, and the attorney-coaches are State Court Judge John C. Carbo, Clayton County Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield, Henry County Assistant Solicitor General Tasha Mosley, and law school student, Katie Powers.
The Jonesboro High School drum line will participate in the parade, as will marching bands from Forest Park, Morrow, Mundy's Mill and Mt. Zion high schools. The cheerleaders and ROTC color guard from Jonesboro High are also expected to participate, but parade organizer, Rose De Jesus, office manager for the county commissioners, was still waiting for confirmation from the school on Wednesday.
The mock trial team will ride on a Clayton County Fire Department truck. "We want to make sure we give them as much recognition as we can, because they've earned it," De Jesus said.
Kelly, a junior who was among the eight team members who competed in Delaware, said it was "obvious" the community supported the team before it went to the national competition, but it went to a new level after Jonesboro won its second national title. He said a lot of the increased support has to do with the team excelling, while the school system is mired in an accreditation crisis.
"It [the national championship] is a good light to be in because, let's be honest, Clayton County doesn't always have a positive light shone on it," Kelly said.
Anna Cox said the students on the team have done a good job of representing their fellow pupils from across the county by showing that students can still excel in Clayton County. She is particularly pleased to see the county commissioners and the school system throw a parade for the team, because the first national championship team was often met with a "So what?" attitude by many people in the community.
"I am very excited for these kids to have such a huge stage to be recognized on," Cox said. "This is better than standing up and being recognized at board [of education] meetings or at the state capitol because this is the community treating these kids like local celebrities."
Members of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners and the Clayton County Board of Education will also be in the parade.