Photo by Johnny Jackson
Marcus Mitchell performs an interpretive dance during the Salute to Youth program Sunday at Dixon Grove Baptist Church. He is a 2013 graduate of Mt. Zion High School and plans to study psychology at Clayton State University.
JONESBORO — Sunday was especially gratifying for church members, particularly for the youngest.
It was the first Youth Sunday at Dixon Grove Baptist Church in which all were able to celebrate their scholastic accomplishments from the 2012-13 school year — not least were their grade-level promotions and graduations.
Loretta Gray is an usher at the church. Her granddaughter, Makiyah Hightower, was recognized as a kindergarten graduate during the church’s “Salute to Youth” program.
“I like the program because it gives them the day,” said Gray. “It puts our youth first and may bring other youth into the youth ministry.”
She greeted her friend, Pat Madry, whose granddaughter, Stephanie Walker, graduated this spring from Clayton State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services.
More than a dozen young people at Dixon Grove graduated this spring from high school and college and many more were celebrated for promotions to the next grade level.
Rev. Spurgeon Henderson helped organize the event by inviting several local dignitaries.
Guests included representatives from the Clayton County Police Department, State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), Morrow Mayor J.B. Burke and Jonesboro High School Principal Felicia Brown.
Visitors heard performances from the church’s Youth and Young Adult Reunion Choir. Dancers in the Angelic Dance Ministry performed an interpretative dance, while 2013 Mt. Zion High School graduate Marcus Mitchell danced in mime.
Associate Minister Robert Robinson said he was pleased and impressed by the students.
“The youth are the people of tomorrow,” he said. “I’m so grateful we have them here training them up to be good Christians.”
The church’s first lady, Sylvia Harris, gave remarks before recognizing the 2013 promotions, graduates and scholarships recipients.
The honorees included kindergarten graduates Dylan Cheeks, Darayah Coffey, Miguel Cuevas, Joshua Greenaway and Makiyah Hightower; high school graduates Ariana Carmichael, Terrence Dixon, A’Miracle Eason, Luckee’ Greene, Aaron Johnson, Alneda McKnight, Marcus Mitchell, Denisia Thomas and Erin Washington; and college graduates Andrea Brodie II, Beverly Duromola, Schatavia Gray, Stephanie Walker and Jerry Zorns III.
Checobia Glass recently earned a master’s degree in business administration. Tyehesha Alexander and Shondrika Kennedy also plan to graduate this year — Alexander with a master’s degree in teaching and learning and Kennedy with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.
Kennedy, Alexander and Brodie were recognized as recipients of Dixon Grove’s Wayne A. Henry Scholarship, named after a church member who was an advocate for lifelong learning.
Henry held a bachelor’s degree in biology from Edward Waters College and earned his master’s degree in public health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in 2009. He died in 2011.
Alexander was the first of her peers to receive the scholarship and put it towards her undergraduate education. She talked to the church youth about the lessons she learned as an undergraduate at Clark Atlanta University.
“You don’t have forever, young people,” said Alexander. “Tomorrow is not promised.”
She offered up three points of advice to those who will follow her.
“Remember, keep God in your view at all times,” she said. “Education is powerful. And don’t lose yourself in the world.”