A rose to community groups who are helping make sure schoolchildren have the supplies they need as the school year approaches. Throughout the Golden Triangle, civic groups and other organizations have been sponsoring school supplies events, including the one held Saturday at Westside Park in Starkville. The events provide children with a variety of supplies, including backpacks and items listed on schools’ supply list. For some, the cost of providing these supplies can be a challenge, so access to supplies provided at these events are important, not only for the students but for teachers as well. When a student arrives at school without the necessary supplies, it is common practice for teachers to provide those materials, often at their own cost. We applaud these organizations, their volunteers and donors for helping fill the gap as we approach the school year.
A rose to the Starkville Fire Department, which kicks off a new program in August designed to expose teens ages 14-18 to career opportunities in firefighting. While students are made aware of careers related to their school studies in many areas, jobs in public safety — including fire and police — are often given little attention. Giving students a behind-the-scenes look at these jobs can be a great recruiting tool for the “home-grown” firefighters of the future. We believe introducing youth to these jobs will make our fire departments better. In years past, law enforcement agencies used similar youth programs to introduce youth to law enforcement careers through “Police Ranger” programs. The benefits of these programs go beyond recruitment. For kids who participate it builds trust and understanding with the public safety department and is a positive influence on youths. We applaud SFD and hope that fire and police departments throughout our communities will be inspired to start their own youth programs.
A rose to Lowndes County Supervisors Leroy Brook and state representative Kabir Karriem for their efforts in encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations as the school year approaches. The two men held a press conference Thursday to promote vaccinations. Brooks said statistics suggest young people and the African American community have been hard hit by COVID-19 and disproportionately impacted by the emergence of the delta variant of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports vaccination rates among younger people are lower than among older Americans. The agency’s data show that slightly fewer than half of people in the U.S. ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 39 are fully vaccinated. The number is even lower for children 12 to 17, who have been eligible to be vaccinated for months. CDC reports lower vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic people compared to their white counterparts across most states leave them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads. Karriem said it is essential that children and young adults be vaccinated. “Young people have to go and get the shot, get vaccinated,” he said. “Every opportunity where they are getting free shots at, parents need to have their children there to get the shot.”
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.