YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Because schools in Youngstown start Monday, local pastors and East High School students got together Sunday to March For Hope, to hope for a successful school year.
The peaceful march included a walk from Price Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church to East High School’s auditorium.
The East High Panthers and community supporters cheered their way down Bennington Avenue in anticipation of the upcoming school year. School spirit was high throughout the day for everyone in attendance.
“I just want to be happy, I just want positivity more than anything. It’s time to make a change,” said rally member Robert Allen.
Local pastors organized the march not only to boost spirits, but to give kids and the community a changed outlook on the school.
They’re looking to end 2016 better than it began. In January, Youngstown City Schools got a failing grade from Ohio. Then in March, a massive school fight ended with police arresting two students.
“These are great kids not only relative to their athletics but also relative to their academics and their potential for success in life,” said Pastor Gary Frost.
Frost graduated from East High and said back in the day, the community was behind the school 100 percent. He said that support had a big effect on his high school experience.
“We had parents, we had the community, that came to the school involved and engaged, and it makes such a difference and so we’re trying to as best as we can recreate that kind of a community environment and involvement for our kids,” Frost said.
The students felt the community’s support, they even had an appearance by Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel. The students said it meant everything to them.
“My mom always told me it takes a village to raise a child, so by the village and the community helping us, it shows that they also want to see a change in us,” Allen said.
Tressel gave an inspirational speech, telling the students that doing well in school can get them far in life.
Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip also spoke at the rally. He said getting kids into the best possible situations starts with the excitement he saw Sunday.
“Something I often tell kids is, ‘You have to love yourself enough to give yourself a chance.’ So, that’s going to be the message moving forward that we’re going to get our kids to see the potential and see their worth, and get them to understand just how to get there,” Mohip said.