Parents turned away from overcrowded graduation

Published 12:02 am Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — Johntrell Jarvis poses for pictures after his graduation from AJFC Head Start Friday morning at the Natchez City Auditorium. Johntrell is the son of Johnny and Kim Jarvis.

NATCHEZ — Overcrowding at Thursday morning’s AJFC Head Start graduation caused a few angry parents to miss their children’s special day.

Mayor Jake Middleton, who attended the graduation, said he could not reach Natchez Interim Chief Danny White Thursday, so he said he called Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield to send deputies to the Natchez City Auditorium for crowd control.

Mayfield said approximately 100 people were turned away from the graduation because the Natchez City Auditorium was filled to capacity.

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Natchez police officers and Natchez firefighters were on hand to help keep the situation under control. Natchez Detective Otis Mazique said several parents were angry that they could not go inside for the graduation, but he said none of the parents got out of hand.

Middleton said he thinks that if Head Start is going to have a large number of children graduate, he believes the program should consider a venue change, such as the Natchez Convention Center, or limit the number of invitations per child.

“If you are going to have that many kids graduate, you’re going to have to do something to accommodate or limit the number of people that are going to attend,” he said.

Attempts to reach Head Start Director Leroy Kelly Jr. and administrative assistant Jessie Singleton Friday were unsuccessful.