High school attendance and high hopes for the future were encouraged.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A back-to-school march and gospel music program drew several hundred city school pupils and their parents and community leaders to the North Side on Saturday.
"We want to stop some of the violence, stop some of the crime and just start increasing peace," said Andrea Mahone, the city's community youth director. She said the goal was to "to empower the youth to stop the violence in the community."
"We don't want them to be afraid. We want them to have hope, and we want to let them know that there are lots of possibilities open right here in this great city of Youngstown for them," she said Saturday.
"We want their [school] attendance to be high. We want their hopes to be high. We want them to be encouraged. We don't want them giving up," Mahone added.
Led by a police car, a firetruck and The Tribes of Judah drum corps from Kimmelbrook Baptist Church, the group marched from Hayes Middle School through the North Side streets as part of the "Taking the Street Back -- Increase the Peace" campaign.
Also participating in the parade was the Timekeepers Drum and Flag Line based at Cleveland Elementary School.
Gospel program at Hayes
Marching in a steady drizzle, the group then returned to Hayes and assembled in the gymnasium for the gospel music program. The parade route, which was to have gone to Evans Field, was altered, and the events scheduled for the field were moved indoors because of the rain.
"We want them [pupils] to depend on Jesus in order to bring about the peace that we need in our city," said Rose Carter, associate minister at the Christian Revival and Discipleship Center on the South Side, one of the event's sponsors. "I went to Hayes, so I want our children to be able to walk to Hayes safely the same as I did 30 years ago."
Minister Lisha Griffin, another associate minister at CRDC, said she and almost all of her family were at the former South High School stadium when the fatal shooting occurred there two weeks ago. "It was a horrific event. ... It could have been much more tragic than it was," she said. "We demand and we command for peace to be in this city," she added.
A positive event
"We do a lot of community service things, and we just wanted to be a part of it because we thought it would be something good for the community," Brittany Felder, of Lora Avenue, said.
"It's something positive when there's so much negative going around in our neighborhood," said Brittany, a cheerleader at The Rayen School, who will be entering her junior year when classes begin Tuesday.
Her message to her fellow city schools pupils: "They should have a positive attitude and want to be in school and do the best they can so they can succeed and be one of these more positive people in our community."
Besides the drum corps and Rayen cheerleaders, event participants included church choirs and church-based mime groups. Pupils also received free school supply kits, including crayons, scissors, pencils, pens and paper, at Hayes.
Sponsors of the event included Home Savings and Loan Co., First Equity Mortgage and National City Bank.