Northport students and teachers welcomed the monthly Speaker’s Bureau recently and the morning in the Northport Media Center truly did “Shine Forth As Gold!” The morning began with the Pledge of Allegiance led by sixth grader, Alicia Brown dressed as Harriet Tubman. As the program progressed, students from Deborah Allen’s class dressed authentically as famous Black Americans, such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Mary McCloud Bethune and more black heroes presented “Who Am I?” speeches. This segment of the program was first rate as the students taught the guests about important Black Americans and their contributions.
Dr. Donna Mills presented the first guest speaker, Dr. James Harrell, husband of District 83 House of Representatives, Gayle Harrell. Dr. Harrell spoke of his own difficult youth and the value of education. The keynote speaker was Mr. Joseph Dillard who dug deep and spoke about his life story. His father was in prison is whole life and his mother was a drug addict. He spent his youth on the streets selling drugs, in and out of relationships and fighting. Dillard finally broke free from the chains of his life when he began reading voraciously at the age of 21. He recounts the story of sitting and telling the moon, “One day I am going to conquer you!” Mr. Dillard tipped hit hat to his teachers who gave him the feelings that “I can do it” and “You should do it!” He had students place their hands over their hearts and repeat, “I am a champion. ” He told them to read, to listen, to go above and beyond expectations and to ask themselves, “What do I stand for!”
The program was flawless and inspiring. Children learned about integrity, grit, determination and the importance of unifying as people, men and women of vision and not color. Dr. Mills spoke about the SLPS “A Promise is a Promise” program and explained to students that if they graduated from SLPS, ask administration or a board member for a certificate and then go to school for education, they will automatically be hired with SLPS as a teacher. Every adult present, including Pastor Kenneth Mills, who has worked tirelessly with the program, “Save Our Children” spoke about hard work and finding purpose in life. The lesson for the morning was to “Don’t let anything stop you. Cry your tears and move on!” We will! We promise!