Fifth Ward father-son banquet gets parents involved

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 21, 1998

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / February 21, 1998

RESERVE – Male students recently gathered with their fathers, uncles, grandpas or mentors for a meal and fellowship at Fifth Ward Elementary School.

The first annual Father-Son Banquet drew participation from about 30 students, about 70 percent of the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade boys, Joyce Pierce, chairperson, said.

Pierce said plans for the Father-Son Banquet were already in the works when Fifth Ward had its first Mother-Daughter Tea a few months ago. Thetea was such a huge success, Pierce said, the parents and faculty knew they had to host something similar for the young men to participate in.

Pierce added that the event draws parents out to the school and gets them involved. “More and more parents want to get involved,” she said. “So weare doing everything we can to get them to come out.”Principal Jackie Forest said the Father-Son Banquet overlaps with two of the criteria the school must strive for to be a part of the accelerated school program. The four criteria are student achievement, parentalinvolvement, lack of discipline problems and high student and staff morale.

Forest said the Father-Son Banquet provided students and faculty with a morale boost and also involved the parents.

“It’s a good thing for the children,” Forest said. “We need something tohelp our boys know they are somebody.

“We try to let them know that so they will be the best they can be,” she added. “But we are all individuals and have different levels of capability.We feel this is an activity to boost morale.”Besides boosting morale and getting parents involved, students also learned another valuable lesson. They listened to a speech about thehorrors of prison life from Freddie Cook, a reformed Reserve man just recently released from prison.

He told students about all of the manual labor he had to do while he was in prison and said that when he was released he was only paid $10.32 for twoyears and two months of work. “I would have made more money atMcDonald’s in that amount of time,” Cook said.

Cook, a former drug dealer, told the students that being a criminal and prison life is no life for anyone. “Now I don’t have to worry about policecoming in and kicking the door down,” he said.

He encouraged the students to stay out of trouble and commended all of the men who came to spend time with the boys. “I tip my hat off to thefathers who came out to support their kids,” he said.

The Fifth Ward Elementary faculty, pleased with the success of the program, is already planning for next year. “We are looking for a biggercrowd next year,” Pierce said.

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