Community members meet MVHS students for Unity Day
Elected leaders, clergy and community members visited Mount Vernon High School on Friday for Unity Day to connect with the school’s 1,500 students.
The community members toured the school, greeted students and were invited into classrooms by teachers. By being present at the school, they served as examples of what success looks like and why education matters. They also showed students that they were supported.
“Today is about creating a sense of shared responsibility and ownership for the students and the community,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, sporting a maroon school sweatshirt as he prepared to take part in the day. He said administrators were also there to greet the teachers, who have been integral in the initiative to reinforce a constructive and positive climate at the school.
About 50 community members joined in, including Board of Education members; Mount Vernon City School District central administrators and principals from other district schools; Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and other representatives of the city and Police Department; and members of the clergy and community organizations. Among the visitors were members of the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities, and organizations including K.I.N.G. (Knowledge, Inspiration and Nurture through God) and the Family Services of Westchester’s violence prevention program SNUG (guns spelled backward).
The members of K.I.N.G. included Lowes Moore, an alumnus and former NBA player who has maintained a connection with the city’s youth and served as executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle until retiring two years ago. He said it is important for high school students to understand the transformative stage they are living through.
“One you leave here, hopefully, you have lain a foundation where you can move forward,” he said.
Senior Jada Robinson, a member of the girls basketball team, who knew Moore from when she worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon, said students benefited from the show of support. To students who are finding less success than others at the school, the community members’ commitment could be the inspiration they need, she said.
“It will give them hope that they can change,” she said. “You determine your path.”
Beverly Hutchins, a warden of Saints John Paul and Clement Church in Mount Vernon and member of the high school class of 1991, wanted them to understand a simple message: “That they’re important, and they’re needed.”
Principal Matthew Gonzales was encouraged by the dedication shown by the visitors, many of whom spent several hours at the school, asked thoughtful questions and demonstrated a commitment to continue collaborating with the school.
“There was a strong sense of commitment from the community and camaraderie and the sense of being cared for,” he said.