By JB Clark
TUPELO – The Committee for King decided to focus the attention of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend events this year on King’s passion for education and on community support for education.
This Saturday’s Black-Tie Banquet will feature talks about improving education from Tupelo High School Principal Jason Harris and Ashland High School Principal LaKimberly Hobson.
“The committee this year talked about what Dr. King was interested in and making it relevant to today,” said Committee for King spokesperson Zell Long. “Education was the key to all of it.
“We asked Dr. Hobson and Principal Harris to speak about how they achieved their goals in education. We’ve also asked them to share what the communities can do to help in these areas.”
Hobson’s school rose from an “F” to “B” in its ranking from the Mississippi Department of Education this year. Tupelo High School rose from a “C” to “A” ranking this year. The rankings are based on how well students score on state tests and on graduation rates.
The Community Service Award will be presented to Janette Kirk, owner of Kiddie Kastle Preschool Center. Long said the owner of the longest operating preschool center in Lee County was chosen because of her commitment to education.
“Her students have a history of being prepared when they leave for preschool and kindergarten,” Long said.
The banquet will begin at 7 p.m. at the St. Paul Christian Life Center.
The weekend will begin at 6 p.m. with a showcase of the talents of Lee County Youth with Apollo Night at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium.
Sunday, during the 2:30 p.m. Commemorative Service at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium, longtime Tupelo football and basketball coach Mickey Linder will be presented with the Drum Major Award.
“He was someone who pulled the community together regardless of race and socioeconomic conditions,” Long said.
Mayor Jason Shelton will give an address Sunday.
Monday will feature a motorcade along Martin Luther King Drive (Highway 45), beginning at 11 am. at the VF Factory Outlet on South Eason Boulevard and ending at the St. Paul Christian Life Center on Spring Street. The Rev. Gloria McKinney will speak at the Christian Life Center at noon.
The Black-Tie Banquet is $15 for students and $25 for adults. All other events are free.