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School celebrates King legacy, pupils, families march

Parents and members of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Locust Grove, joined with the youths of Locust Grove Elementary School to celebrate the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., Day national holiday.

Parents and members of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Locust Grove, joined with the youths of Locust Grove Elementary School to celebrate the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., Day national holiday.

Some students sighed with amazement when Willie Colvin told them he was a graduate of their school many decades ago.

“This is where I went to grade school, first- through eighth-grade,” said Colvin, 59.

The Jackson, Ga., resident spoke to students at Locust Grove Elementary School in Locust Grove, during its “Taking it to the Streets” march and program on Friday.

Colvin told the students he graduated from the school, back in 1966. He was a 13-year-old, then, at the cusp of school integration. It was when his generation got a first glimpse of the legendary civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Colvin is a deacon at Shoal Baptist Church, next door to the school, where King’s father was pastor from 1930 to 1932. He spoke to students, during the assembly celebrating King’s legacy, about how character played a role in the Civil Rights Movement.

“It’s a great event for children to get an idea of what went on years ago, and the way statements were made about treating everybody equal and respecting everybody,” said Colvin.

School officials pointed to the upcoming holiday in King’s name as an opportunity to relay the civil rights leader’s message of service.

Kimberly Lunn, Locust Grove Elementary’s parent liaison, singled out the school’s endeavor which resulted in money being collected for the Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center and Children’s Care Home.

“I think our message, ‘Coming Together We Can Make A Difference!’ was proven when we presented Ms. Diane Smith, of Noah’s Ark, a check for $300,” Lunn said. “All donations were from our staff and student families.”

Lunn said the school received $70 more on Friday, to add to its donation.

“We are so excited,” beamed Diane Smith, the assistant to Noah’s Ark Founder and Director Jama Hedgecoth. “We have more than a thousand animals. [And] it costs us over $10,000 a month to feed all those animals. Because of you, they are not going to be hungry,” she told the group Friday.

Leslie Flath, the school counselor at Locust Grove Elementary, emphasized the goal of service in coupling the fund-raising effort with Friday’s assembly featuring Colvin.

“They’re very generous,” Flath said. “We want them [students] to see themselves as involved in the community and know how they can go out and make a difference in the world.”

The assembly ended with a symbolic march around the school, which was sponsored by Locust Grove Elementary’s two student leadership groups — the Young Men of Distinction, and the Outstanding Women Leading the School.

“We thought it would be great to have the whole school walk, like the civil rights marchers did, to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” added Locust Grove Elementary Assistant Principal Walter Shields.