Student speaks from heart at rally

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 23, 1999

Brandi Jones, a Natchez Middle School eighth-grader, gave a powerful message to parents and students Thursday at the district’s first safe schools rally.

&uot;(Parents) shouldn’t come on to campus hurting other students,&uot; Jones said. &uot;If they want to keep the fighting off campus, they can’t be the one’s fighting.&uot;

Recently a group of parents allegedly climbed onto a school bus and got involved in a student fight, according to police reports.

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Jones told the crowd parents should never do that kind of thing. She is glad the district’s no-tolerance policy on fighting has cut down on violence and gang fights.

&uot;No one wants to go to jail and walk off campus handcuffed,&uot; Jones said. &uot;They’ve really cracked down on the violence at our school.&uot;

A large crowd of people attended the safe schools rally at the multi-purpose building.

&uot;It’s let us know by the response we had last night that people are concerned,&uot;&160;said Natchez Middle School Principal Linda McMurtry.

Jones was one of four students selected as winners in the district’s safe schools essay and oratorical contest this week.

These students all spoke at the rally but Jones’ speech was especially good, said Public Relations Director Millicent Mayo.

At the last minute, Jones decided to give her speech from memory.

&uot;She got right out on the edge of that stage, held that microphone and spoke from her heart,&uot; Mayo said. &uot;She told people just like it was.&uot;

Jones, who is also school president, admitted to being nervous but she decided speaking from memory was the best route.

&uot;I decided to leave my paper and say what I thought in my heart,&uot; Jones said. &uot;I thought my whole body was going to break down and I would lose everything I had to say but it all worked out.&uot;

She thinks students are afraid a shooting or a bomb threat could happen in Natchez. &uot;I put it in the back of my head thinking it will never happen but it could happen,&uot;&160;she said. &uot;There is nowhere you can really be safe.&uot;

Jones summed up her speech by asking the community to help students feel safe.

&uot;This isn’t just the school’s problem, it’s ours too,&uot;&160;she wrote, &uot;We must try everything we can to make our children feel safe at our schools.&uot;