PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

August 19, 2013

'Spectacular' crowd turns out for PAISD back-to-school event

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Even before the first day of class, school bells rang loud and clear in Port Arthur Saturday.

School administrators, city leaders, area ministers, students and their parents filled Memorial Stadium to ring in the new school year on a positive note.

The 2013 City Wide Youth Explosion was at the football stadium for the first time, and was expanded to include new sponsoring groups.

PAISD partnered with the Port Arthur Ministers Conference and the Willie Carter Outreach Center to host the 13th annual back-to-school kick off event.

“I am very happy the community has come together in an effort to support the children of Port Arthur,” Mark Porterie, PAISD interim superintendent, said. “It feels good when city ministers and school administrators, parents and students can come together of one accord to get students started on a good path this school year.”

For a Saturday morning, when there are so many things to do, the crowd was spectacular, Porterie said.

Those in attendance were treated to performances by the Memorial High School Band and Drumline as well as a dance number by the Christian Faith Praise Team.

The Rev. Randy Vaughn,  pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur, addressed the students and their families about the importance of making the school year a positive experience.

“You are the only one that can determine what happens to you,” Vaughn said. “If you blow now, you are throwing your tomorrow away. I challenge you to do your best next  school year.”

“We are absolutely excited about the turnout,” the Rev. Leonard Frazier, pastor of Peaceful Rest Baptist Church and a ministerial alliance member, said.

Saturday’s back-to-school event was another effort to try and integrate all nationalities and denominations for a common cause — to put students on a successful school year course, Frazier said.

Sandra Guidry, 44, of Port Arthur attended Saturday’s back-to-school fair with her daughter, 8-year-old Aleyiah Guidry.

“I like the fact that the community leaders came together today. When we have the leaders together of one accord in unity it helps to bring the community together and keep our children focused,” Guidry said. “This is a great way to start the school year.”

Robert Hayward, 47, and his wife Brenda Hayward, were at the kick off with three of their grandchildren in tow.

The children, ages 9, 8, and 4 will all be attending Port Arthur schools this year.

“It is just beautiful to see everybody here today when they could be doing thousands of other things on a Saturday morning,” Robert Hayward said.

It is important, he said, for a family to show they are interested in children’s education.

Saturday’s event was an occasion to get that message out early.

“It lets them know their parents and grandparents are standing behind them. If more would do that, school would be great,” he said.

Resource tables, which included free school supplies, were on site to help prepare the students for a successful school year.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: @skooncePANews