The Project Reach G.A.N.G (God’s Anointed Now Generation) choir could be heard for miles down Barrington Ferry Road. As the choir sang, the community came together at Briar Bay Park. It was more than just a back-to-school rally. For Project Reach founder Lavonia LeCounte it was their 20th year of being blessed by the community she calls home.
Through music, worship, fellowship and praise, families came together in support of their largest investment – their children.
The rally celebrated the upcoming school year and the incoming student body. Guest speakers and community leaders offered empowering words to the next generation of possible lawyers, doctors, educators and local and federal leaders.
Liberty County Board of Education vice Chair, Verdell Jones served as the emcee. She read a resolution from state representative Al Williams (D-Midway) recognizing the efforts of Project Reach G.A.N.G. for their “Efficient, effective, noble and dedicated service to the state of Georgia and the residents of Liberty County.”
Newly hired LCSS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Zheadric Barbra spoke on behalf of LCSS Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry who had an unexpected emergency which kept him from attending the rally.
“I am elated to be here at the Liberty County Schools,” Barbra said. “Georgia is home for me.”
Barbra commended LeCounte for her service to the community, the churches and the annual event. He then turned his attention to the children and said, “We are waiting to see you in school in a few weeks. Enjoy the last weeks of summer. Have fun but start picking those books back up.”
Barbra said students deserve to receive the best education possible. He also encouraged parents to be more involved with the school system and stay connected to their children’s educators.
“We are focused on results, not excuses,” Barbra said. “We are aiming for excellence.”
Riceboro native and Westside Elementary School Principal Dr. Cynthia Jackson Hammond was among the guest speakers. She started off by saying how proud she was of her community.
“I am so home-town proud right now,” she said.
Hammond spoke about the importance of education and making the right choices in school. She said successful students are those who can show leadership skills and follow the path. She said students need to think before acting and know that there are consequences for their actions. She said children should check their surroundings and separate themselves from the bullies and trouble makers.
“You should surround yourself with people who will help you be better,” she said. “Surround yourself with people who want something good out of life.”
Project Reach G.A.N.G. founder Lavonia LeCounte said the back to school rally started back in 1998 when concerned parents came together to give their children a better chance at life through education, the arts and the church.
She said Briar Bay Park has served as the event’s location since its inception and thanks to local efforts, the park and the surrounding environment have improved remarkably.
LeCounte founded Project Reach with the goal of improving the children in academics, health and wellness, cultural awareness and increase parent involvement in their children’s lives. Project REACH G.A.N. G. provides youth development training, peer pressure classes, job interview training mentoring and tutorial programs.
They also provide vocal and performance training through the G.A.N.G choir which released its first Gospel Recording CD entitled “Grateful” in 2010.
At Saturday’s rally the G.A.N.G choir had people dancing and rejoicing. Organizers thanked the community vendors for their contribution of school supplies. LeCounte thanked the community for their annual support saying they were all a blessing from God.
After the ceremony and choir the children were released into the playground where the community vendors welcomed them with gifts and school supplies.
Project Reach G.A.N.G. was also able to give away five tablets to high school seniors and students entering their freshman year in college.