BY ANDREAS BUTLER
In the midst of all the adversity facing Campbell Middle School, there was reason for celebration on Wednesday morning.
The school that is in the heart of Daytona Beach’s Black community held its Earl C. McCrary II Eighth Grade End-of-the-Year Celebration in the gymnasium that also bears McCrary’s name.
Campbell is located at 625 South Keech St.
About 280 students are leaving the school and heading to high school in the fall.
“We are the only middle school that has a graduation ceremony. We do this to celebrate our students’ accomplishments. We are also honoring Mr. McCrary,” said Dr. Jerry L. Picott, Campbell’s principal.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry, who attended the school back when it was known as Campbell Junior High School, delivered the keynote address.
Henry said, “Who are we? #1 Spartans! We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, mayors, city and county councilmen and women, U.S. congressman, NBA players, NFL Players and more.’’
Henry also received a special recognition from the school for his contributions to the city and the school.
The mayor encouraged the youngsters to strive for their dreams to succeed and stressed to them the value of education.
‘Make it happen’
“Today is about you being promoted to next level. This is a great transition in life. Successful people can make the transitions from one state of life to another. Your teachers want you to transition and be successful in high school, college, congress the military, trade school and more,’’ Henry told the students.
“Education is the key to American dream; it is the great equalizer to achieving your dreams. Life is about the right attitude and choices. Don’t sit and wait for anyone to make anything happen for you. Go out and make it happen yourselves,’’ he added.
Campbell Middle School has received a “D’’ grade the past four years and is in danger of being taken over by the Florida Board of Education.
Picott took over as principal in January and quickly released a plan to improve the school and to raise its test grades.
His plan focuses mainly on three areas including, instructional growth, remediation for proficiency and a boot camp for state standards testing. The use of technology, the re-implementation of a 30-minute Spartan time and Saturday school remediation also have come into play.
“This is a time to celebrate even in the midst of the challenges that we face. We absolutely expect to achieve. Still this is a time to recognize how far we have come,” Picott said.
The new principal also quickly reached out to the community for support.
Many individuals and community organizations have stepped in with tutoring, financial support and other support, including the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, Bethune-Cookman University; Mayor Henry and City Commissioner Paula Reed, the Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri and others.
“The challenges that we face as Spartans does not deter us but unite us and make us stronger,” Picott added.
Along with the mayor, other people who were distinguished or honored guests included: the family of Earl C. McCrary; Linda Cuthbert, vice chair of the Volusia County School Board; Susan Freeman, Area II Superintendent, Volusia County Schools; former Campbell Principal Vikki Pressley; Daytona Police Chief Craig Capri; Harold Lucas; Dr. Delores Butts-Lucas; and Central Florida Communications Group Chairwoman Julia Cherry.