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SANTEE -- Students, parents and partners from public and private sectors came together to lift up literacy and safety awareness at Orangeburg Consolidated School District Three's 2016 Back to Basics for Parents event at Lake Marion High School and Technology Center last week.

“We appreciate your interest and participation in this community partnership forum,” said Gerald Wright, OCSD 3 associate chief of operations, in his opening remarks on Sept. 27. “It is a delight to work together to help our children succeed educationally. We appreciate the vision of leaders who have come together to offer multiple perspectives in our overall purpose -- helping to improve and enhance our children’s education.”

OCSD 3 Superintendent Dr. Jesulon Gibbs-Brown said, “We are so happy to see so many people come out tonight for this second annual event. Last year, this event grew out of a conversation that Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter and I had with our vice chair Vernell Goodwin. We talked about how oftentimes at the beginning of the school year so many events focus on students. But we needed something where parents could come out and learn more about what the district is doing and how we are connecting with parents and connecting with the community.”

“So here we are again, happy to see how this program has grown to include so many more parents, teachers and students to showcase all the good things we see happening in Orangeburg County School District Three,” she added.

“What we hope will be accomplished by doing this every year is to get you in the habit of understanding how important education is and recognizing the role you play,” Cobb-Hunter told the group. “The role you play, quite frankly, is expecting the best out of your kids. Demanding excellence. Making sure you know who their teachers are.”

She added, “What we hope, y’all, is that as a result of all of this conversation, you will feel more comfortable with the teachers, that you will make it a habit to get engaged and get involved with your kid’s schooling."

As part of the event, there was a celebration of literacy that included the presentation of awards to students who successfully completed last summer’s reading program. District officials also recognized the principals and champions of literacy from each school in the district. The quality of district students was also demonstrated in a variety of performances by the young people themselves including:

  • N’Yerah Glover of Holly Hill-Roberts Middle led the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Shaniah Clark of Holly Hill Elementary gave a stirring vocal performance.
  • Ver’Niya Collier of Elloree Elementary recited a poem.
  • Georgianna Goodwin, Na’Shay Hilliard, Carmella Sellers, Jordan Johnson and Ty’Layshia Johnson -- also known as Lake Marion High School Jobs for America graduates -- made an inspirational presentation.

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In addition, the program featured Capt. James Green and Lt. Dexter Ladson of the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office, who gave students and parents an overview of the considerations they face in enforcing laws with regard to student behavior.

“School is an institution of learning, not an institution of fighting,” Green said. “Not an institute of bringing weapons to school, disrespecting the teachers or disrespecting other students. It’s an institution of learning. Parents want to know that their children can come to school, be safe and come back home.”

“There’s a lot more work to be done, but we can’t only do it from a law enforcement perspective. We need community leaders, we need churches, we need parents, but most of all we need students to understand the importance of why we’re here at Lake Marion and all the other schools," he continued. "So I’m charging you tonight as parents, community leaders, church leaders, students and anybody else of importance to let’s work together to make sure that when these kids walk into their institution of learning, they reach their goals without any incidents.”

The evening concluded with a presentation by noted author and motivational speaker L. Kobie Wilkerson. Wilkerson gave parents an overview of the concept of parents as "dream builders." He also briefed parents and guardians on seven key areas of parental influence.

Organizers recognized the event's business sponsor, Sam’s Club of North Charleston. The district’s community partners received recognition as well. They included BabyNet, the Community Organization for Rights and Empowerment, CASA Family Systems, Concerned Citizens, Edisto Children’s Center, Girl Flight Inc., Kiwanis Club International, Lake Marion High School and Technology Center Band Booster Club, Lake Marion High School and Technology Center JROTC Parent Association, Medical Ministries, the Ministerial Alliance, OCAB Community Action Agency Inc., Orangeburg County Adult Education, the Orangeburg County Attendance Office, the Orangeburg County Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Orangeburg County Library, Orangeburg County Mental Health, the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office, Rotary Club of Lake Marion, Santee Industries Vocational Rehabilitation, Save the Children, South Carolina Regional Housing Authority #3, The William J. McCord Adolescent Treatment Facility, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Vocational Rehabilitation. The community partners had display tables set up in the LMHS cafeteria.

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