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South Boston News / August 02, 2018

This Saturday, the Halifax County School Board invites all parents and students to the newly expanded 2018 Back 2 School Expo.

Started as a school supplies drive, the Back 2 School Expo is now a rollicking showcase to get kids and parents hyped for the new school year. The event features a variety of entertainment, school services, food, a raffle and motivational speakers — all of whom have roots or grew up in Halifax County.

The event is the brainchild of school board vice chairman Sandra Garner-Coleman. “I got on the school board to get engaged. I just think family engagement is so valuable,” she said.

The supplies drive snowballed after an influx of support from school officials and local businesses and organizations. Coleman said Superintendent of Schools Mark Lindberg told her “just go for it.

“It’s unbelievable how the community has turned out,” she said.

The motivational speakers include Tisha Waller, 1996 and 2004 Olympic high jump competitor for the U.S., entrepreneur and former Comet athlete Ryland Clark, current MMA fighter Will Worley, former Dallas Cowboys and Hampton University running back Alonzo Coleman, former Green Bay Packers tight end Tyrone Davis, and former Dallas Mavericks player Terry Davis.

As how the school board managed to pull together the lineup of speakers, Coleman said it was simple: “People don’t do anything because you never ask them to.”

Sometimes the only needed is to ask, but other times it takes a personal connection to seal the deal. She cited her conversation with Worley: “He said, ‘I remember when you were the only one who believed in me (in school).’ I was so overwhelmed.”

As for Worley’s success in mixed martial arts, Coleman credits his schooling in part. It gave him distinction and discipline to succeed. That’s something she hopes to pass onto all students in the county.

The expo will highlight the Halifax schools’ IT department (to help families access the online parent portal for grades and progress reports), Mentor Role Model Program, the Danville Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s STEM Mobile Learning Lab, and vehicles from the Old School Car Club. Parents will also be able to access free blood pressure testing. The expo will also show off exhibits for each school as well as activities by the Interactive Robotic Team.

Eligible students and guardians will also be able to register to vote at the function.

The expo wouldn’t be possible without community involvement: Reese’s Farm has donated fresh fruit for refreshments and for the schools’ demonstration of healthy eating recipes. Other local businesses have offered $1,000 in $5 gift cards — half of which will be raffled out to the attendees of Saturday’s expo. The top three schools will receive the other half that will be distributed to students for good grades, attendance, and incentives throughout the year. The Old School Car Club is also bringing in 100 backpacks as part of the storehouse of free school supplies available at the event.

Other entertainment will be offered by Halifax County High School Cheerleaders, HCHS band, parent and student performers, Sharron Garrett and the JROTC Drill Team.

Parents will also be encouraged to take the “50 I Pledges” — promises to limit their children’s time on social media, TV, and other screens. “They’re excellent for improving relations of children and parents,” said Coleman.

“[Parents] want their child to be the very best,” she said. “There is greatness in every child.”

After a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:45 a.m., the expo opens at 10 a.m. at Halifax County High School.

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