By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Back to school rally psychs up students
Vendors, businesses donate supplies
horse 2
Aleiyah Jenkins, 11, grins while riding a horse during the Saturday’s Back to School Rally in Riceboro’s Briar Bay Park. Thomas McClendon of the Long County E-Z Rider Club holds the reins. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Like many other Liberty County youths, LaTrinitee Nelson, 4, enjoyed her summer at vacation Bible school and summer camp, but she’s already thinking about the upcoming school year.
“Yeah, she’s ready to go back,” said LaTrinitee’s grandmother Fran Nelson with a chuckle as she picked up a few pencils from a vendor booth. “She’s starting pre-K so she’s looking forward to that.”
An estimated 1,500 people descended on Riceboro’s Briar Bay Park on Saturday for the 12th annual Back to School Rally, where more than 40 booths were set up. Area businesses and organizations served snacks, entertained the crowds and donated free school supplies, food and brochures to students and their families.
This year’s rally  drew more people than last year’s, according to the event’s executive director, Lavonia LeCounte.
“The kids are motivated,” LeCounte said. “It gives them a sense of pride, a feeling that they can learn.”
Keisha Johnson, a rally first-timer, agreed.
“It’s an excellent confidence booster,” said the mother of three. “It lets them know they can have fun and still learn.”
In addition to support from community groups, the Liberty County School System has pledged to “do their part to supply a quality education,” superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer told the crowd during the opening ceremony.
“Today is an excellent example of what education is about,” Scherer said.
BoE chairwoman Lily Baker did her part to inspire the audience when she encouraged children and parents to aim for success, “regardless of what’s around you.”
“We’re going to have higher test scores and more children going to the next grade,” Baker said. “We are not going to accept any excuses. No excuses for success and we are saying to you: We want the best.”
Lecounte also is a parent involvement facilitator at Lyman Hall and the creator of Project Reach God’s Anointed Now Generation (GANG), a community mentoring organization. She’s urging parents to start the year strong and on the right foot.
“These are your children … don’t let your babies fall through the cracks,” Lecounte said. “We don’t need to see you just when your kids are failing.
“I’m God-driven to do this. I love children … I’m very concerned about their education, not just for the children but for everyone.”
Omari Walthour is a testament to how LeCounte’s GANG program helps students.
The GANG member graduated high school in May with plans to attend Paine College and encouraged the kids to stay on the right path.
“Don’t lose focus on what you have,” Walthour said.
LeCounte agreed.
“Without education, you can not get anywhere,” she said. “If you want to be successful, you need an education.”

Sign up for our e-newsletters