Olympian, MHS graduate Inika McPherson honored during homecoming parade

Published 10:23 am Friday, October 14, 2016

Enthusiasm was high earlier this week as downtown Port Arthur came alive with school spirit.

Memorial High School held its homecoming parade starting at the intersection of Stilwell Boulevard and Procter Street and continued down to the Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse, where it ended in a pep rally and a performance by local artist Diamond Mine.

“It’s about the pride of Port Arthur coming back,” Taunja Drake, instructional coach at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, said. “We want the younger generation to know what pride was like in our day.”

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For Drake, it was about tradition and what the city could offer its residents.

“We’re proud of what Port Arthur has to offer,” Drake said. “Port Arthur produces positive people. Academically, athletically … we have awesome kids.”

And the fact that representatives and students from all Port Arthur schools were present only reaffirmed Drake’s faith in the homecoming spirit.

“We basically have three high schools that were consolidated, and now we have one combined high school.” Drake said.

“We learn what it has to offer. There’s a big support system with the alumni.”

Among alumni classes of 2003 and onward, special honor was given to 2005 Memorial graduate and Olympian Inika McPherson, who was Grand Marshal of the parade.

“We’re here because of homecoming and of the renewed rivalry with Mid-County,” Drake said.

When she spoke about the hundreds in attendance, Drake commented, “It’s growing and we hope in the years to come, it’ll continue to grow.”

Along with renewed school spirit, there was a strong surge of school pride as well.

“We’re extremely proud of our children and of our school and what they’ve accomplished,” Pastor Don Frank, board member for PAISD, said.

“We’re just proud to support them.”

Frank thought that PAISD was seeing a resurgence in prominence.

“Now we’re just trying to restore the district to greatness,” Frank said. “They’re on a great path.”

For attendee Barbara Petry, her reason for going to the parade was simple — her grandson plays for Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

“We’re here to watch him and Memorial High School.”

The number of people showing their support was high, as both school officials and parents came out to cheer the school on.

“I came to support the students from Booker T. Washington,” Alanna Davis, kindergarten teacher at Washington Elementary School, said.

“It’s great for the community to come out and support the high school.”

For Pattie Scott, whose son plays for the Memorial Titans, the local support was only multiplying.

“It’s growing. We love to support our kids and to see them in the parade.”

“It’s fuller; it’s better than last year,” Cynthia Madriz, whose child attends Sam Houston Elementary, said. “We are here to support our town and to enjoy our community.”