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Pilgrim to host back-to-school bash

NATCHEZ — Terri McGruder is fired up for school, and she is doing her best to spread her upbeat attitude.

McGruder, the youth chairperson at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Natchez, is organizing a Back-to-School Youth PowerHouse Explosion to motivate students to do their best during the 2010-2011 school year.

The event will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pilgrim Baptist Church.

“This is not something for one church or one school,” McGruder said. “This is something for all of the school children to come to and hear words of encouragement and get motivated for the school year.”

The back-to-school pep rally will feature music, praise dance teams and encouragement from local speakers. The keynote speaker is Dr. Montrell Greene, a Natchez native and former teacher and principal in the Natchez-Adams School District and current CEO of Empowerment 360, an educational consulting group in Cleveland. NASD Superintendent Anthony Morris will deliver a motivational message.

“I have asked every principal to attend and have their staff members attend so we can really show these students that they are cared for,” McGruder said. “Children learn by seeing, and if we can show them that our hearts really believe in them, I think we can see some positive results.”

McGruder said the event was inspired by her church’s belief that students will achieve more if the students know teachers, school administrators parents and community members are rooting for them.

“For me, this is about setting up the expectations,” McGruder said. “You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. We are looking to be part of the solution.”

The PowerHouse Choir is being assembled from students at local churches to sing at the program. McGruder said she has contacted churches about sending students to sing, but is looking for as many singers as possible.

The choir will have an open rehearsal at 6 p.m. today and again at 6 p.m. Monday at Pilgrim Baptist Church. The choir is being directed by Natchez Alderman Ernest “Tony” Fields and Alvin Shelby. School supplies have also been collected to be given away at the event. Approximately 25 churches have already committed to participate. For more information, contact McGruder at 601-445-0445 or Pilgrim Baptist Church at 601-442-8217.

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