MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of students, teachers and community members came out to Danzler Stadium in Moss Point Friday evening for a city-wide back to school bash.
The event took place just after parents learned two of the schools in the district, Magnolia Junior High and Kreole Elementary, didn't deliver on their Adequate Yearly Progress scores. The bad scores are a serious concern for Leshanda Randle, who has one daughter at the elementary level.
"I'm questioning, is she a straight A student because she's so smart?" asked Randle. "Or is she a straight A student because she's not being challenged enough?"
Despite the disappointment, some parents are meeting the news with a new determination to improve the schools themselves. The No Child Left Behind Act allows Frances Hannah the option of sending her daughter from Magnolia Junior High to a school in another district. Instead of making the switch, she joined the PTO.
"I thought I wanted to get her in another school district. That was my first thought," Hanna said. "And then I thought to myself, I just need to get involved because Moss Point has a lot of good students."
Darlene Carter's Group, Moss Point Visionary Circle, is pairing children with mentors. They're also sponsoring a performing group called Sounds Of Knowledge to inspire kids in the district.
"If they're having deficiencies in Math and science, we can target that," Rod Patterson said of the group's school performances.
Carter believes it's up to the community to help grab childrens' attention and help them focus on learning.
"AYP [Adequate Yearly Progress], it's a difficult thing," Carter said. "But I think that with the help of all the community organizations that are here and the tutoring that we'll provide and the mentoring that we'll provide, then we can make a difference."
Most of these parents believe raising scores doesn't start in the classroom. It starts in the community.
"This is a rally," Leshanda Randle said of the fanfare. "So, I think if we have more rallying together as a community and finding out what our problems are and not only talk about the problems but find solutions for these problems, then we can be better teachers. We can be better parents, and we can be better students."
Gautier Middle School, in the Pascagoula School District, was the third school to underperform in at least one category.
Pascagoula School District officials said, as of Friday afternoon, 119 families had told the district they wanted their children to stay at Gautier Middle School. Only one family had opted to transfer their child away from the school at that time.