The Anson High School Parent-Community Outreach meeting held Oct. 17 drew nine people, primarily local pastors and AHS Principal Chad Murphy, together for the first meeting for the Faith-Based Outreach Project. Dannie Montgomery, the parent-community outreach coordinator, headed the meeting and outlined the need for the community to help each other and the children.
During an open discussion, the attendees identified common negative thoughts they’ve heard about AHS: that it isn’t safe, that students are disrespectful, that the school is dirty, that students relocate to other school systems, and that there is a lack of personal vision among students. The Rev. Benny Clodfelter, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Wadesboro, suggested that the students’ lack of vision is due to the economy. “In all the economy and all the things we have today, it seems like they’re looking at it and they see that half of all college students aren’t having any jobs when they get out of college, so at that point in high school they’re like, ‘What difference does all this mess make?’”
The problem of how to deal with these concerns drew several suggestions ranging from group school clean-ups to community prayer at the school. The Rev. Sylvia McLendon, a teacher at AHS and pastor at Lindsey Chapel Friendship Church of God, and Murphy encouraged the attendees to choose a day to take half an hour or an hour a week to visit the kids, greeting the children as they go to school or to put up bulletin boards in the school. “I beg of you as pastors of the church to come to the high school and walk the campus — you don’t have to say a lot, just shake your hand and say hi — just tell yourself, ‘I’m coming to Anson High one day of the week’,” McLendon said. “Could you give us one hour? Just one hour? It would mean a lot.”
The Rev. Iris Tillman, pastor of Morven Church of God of Prophecy, agreed. “The kids that do care, especially the smaller kids, they get very excited when they see their pastor coming to their classroom.” She said she has visited several local schools. “I’ve had kids running up and grabbing hold of me and I didn’t even know the child, but the child had been to the church and they were just excited to be a part of the fact that a pastor that they knew was coming to the schoolhouse. We do have a lot of power in our communities.”
If younger children are excited to see pastors, then older children will “change when they see us coming because they’ve been taught to respect pastors, taught to calm themselves down when they see a pastor coming,” Tillman said.
The group decided that working on bulletin boards, holding a community prayer, and individually choosing a day a week to greet kids would be its first step. Montgomery also encouraged attendees to attend public meetings at the school, as well as others including the county commissioners meeting. Additionally, she asked the pastors for their churches to consider creating outreach programs.
Murphy appreciated the support for AHS. “We really appreciate your support and your being here; I can’t say it enough,” Murphy said. “I’m so excited that we have folks on our campus, adults from the community, leaders from the community here to see what’s going on and to share the vision.”
The Faith-Based Outreach Project group encourages all parents and faith community members to participate. The group’s next meeting will be held Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. in the AHS Parent-Community Outreach Center (A-7); attendees from the first meeting will be asked what they have done so far. A community prayer will also be held Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. in front of the media center at AHS.