WARREN - Inspiring the minds and aspirations of young people was the theme of various speakers at the Asa Phillip Randolph Institute 27th annual Salute to Martin Luther King Jr.
Warren city Schools Superintendent Michael Notar, keynote speaker at the annual luncheon, pushed back at the perception that Warren public school students are bad.
"We have good students," Notar told the crowd of more than 300 people attending the salute.
James Rogers, right, receives a plaque from mistress of ceremonies, Sonya Carter, during the 27th annual Salute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held Saturday afternoon. Photo by Raymond L. Smith
Notar said collectively they can advance all children by providing them quality education by building a sense of community in which they are encouraged to reach their potentials.
Community, he said, is defined as a group of people who have common attitudes, interests, goals and values.
The superintendent suggested that community must have a shared sense of intent or purpose to help and support children in the schools.
"We need help," Notar said. "It is not always about money. We encourage parents or the community to become involved in the schools and provide whatever skills they may be able to bring into the schools."
Notar said if people in the community can spend an hour a week or an hour a month with students in the school, it would provide needed help in the schools.
Having belief that public schools are able to provide safety and encouraging teachers to provide rigorous standards will allow them to fully engage students.
Notar says we live in a society in which parents have a choice of sending their children either to public schools or to schools offering alternative education.
The superintendent said his own health problems helped him to realize the three things that are most important: God, his two teenage children and the 5,000 young people he is responsible for in the school district.
"We need people who will listen, care about and love our kids," Notar said. "Our goal is to prepare them for life."
Tim Callion, president of A. Phillip Randolph Institute, said the organization is working with the city's Ministerial Alliance, the Warren- Trumbull Urban League, NAACP, and others to work with young people to help provide them with a sense that people care about them, opportunities and jobs.
Callion said the proceeds of the annual King Salute and other events are used to provide $1,000 scholarships to students. They provided scholarships to four graduates, Audra Dull of Niles McKinley High School, Jarred Crowder of Newton Falls, Autumn Howard of John F. Kennedy and Darian Rucker of Warren G. Harding High school.
The program recognized the Rev. Todd A. Johnson, pastor of Agape Assembly Church in Warren and Sherry Gaunt, vice president of UAW Local 1714.
Rev. Phillip Shealey, president of the Trumbull County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, whose Witnessing the Dream ceremony will be at 6 p.m., today, says the goal of various groups this year is to work together in addressing violence that has has been happening in the city in the last year.
"We met with some of the young men who were out there in the streets," Shealey said. "We wanted to let them know that we want our streets safe. We met with them more than a dozen times. We did not go empty handed. We wanted them to know we can provide both short term solutions and help them define their long term goals.
"We approached them with the spirit of love," he said. "It is not just the black community. We met with a number of white ministers. It is the whole community."
The group is working to help them get jobs and provide opportunities.
"We are willing to help them with educational opportunities and jobs, but it is not just one way," he said "We are asking a commitment from them. We are our brother's keepers."
Shealey said the work they are doing today is in the spirit of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others of the civil rights era of the the 1950s and the 1960s.
Much of the work of providing hope and opportunities are the same.