Area school employees have been putting the final touches on the start of the upcoming school year for weeks.
Administrators, teachers, IT specialists and maintenance workers have been spending long hours preparing their schools for the arrival of students.
The campus of Naylor R-II School was full of activities Monday as students arrived for the first day of school. On Sunday, community members did their part to help kick the school year off on a positive note.
Several church representatives from Naylor, Ripley County and the surrounding area approached the school about conducting a Community Prayer Walk. The school agreed and several showed up Sunday afternoon to pray over and bless the buildings, students, administrators, teachers and all school personnel.
“It was a great turnout and we are pleased to see our community cover our school in prayer,” Naylor R-II Superintendent Terry Arnold said.
Representatives from several churches took part, including Naylor Church of God, Doniphan Church of God, New Hope Baptist Church in Doniphan, His Place in Doniphan, Naylor Pentecostal Church, Oxly Pentecostal Church, West Point Pentecostal Church, New Covenant Church in Poplar Bluff, Living Word in Poplar Bluff, Doniphan Church of Christ, Center Hill Baptist Church and First Methodist in Doniphan.
Pastors who were involved Sunday at the event were Larry Earl, Donnie Fowler, Curtis Hunter and Donnie Emmons.
Representatives from New Hope Baptist managed the flyers and helped promote the event. Rick Bollin is the pastor of the church and is from Paragould, Arkansas, though he couldn’t attend.
“This is needful, and the power of prayer works for situations and for events seen and unseen,” Fowler said. He is a Naylor graduate, former school board member and grandparent of a current Naylor student. “(This was for) unity, for learning of students, (and) protection for administration and faculty guidance. This also shows concern and care for our school, the children, administration and faculty staff and all that work in any capacity.”
Earl said his church felt it was important to pray for protection and guidance for the school.
“We will be praying each day, not just this one event, for the Lord to watch over and bless this school year,” Earl said.
The same type of event will take place in Doniphan on Wednesday and Thursday, Earl added.
Naylor Elementary Principal Stacey Roach said the Community Prayer Walk was advertised by local churches, and “all were welcome to attend.”
She added, “We were delighted to open our doors to our community and that they care so deeply for our students and faculty.”
Erica Hollis, who has been at Naylor for five years and is currently a first-grade teacher, was impressed with Sunday’s event and turnout.
“It was amazing to see so many people from the community join together and pray over our students, administration and staff,” she said. “There were people from all different backgrounds and denominations that came to show their support. It was a time of unity to cover our small school with the love and protection of God.”
Hollis went on to explain that in today’s society, schools need community support and prayer.
“I believe this is important because it is imperative that we cover each other in prayer. This day in time proves to be a hard time to live in. Schools, unfortunately, are a target for many bad acts of violence,” Hollis said. “It is just as important now as it has ever been to pray for one another on a daily basis. Starting the school year off with a community wide prayer is the best way to start.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the pastors that stepped up to lead us all in prayer. Thank you to everyone that showed up to pray for all of us at Naylor. Please continue those prayers.”
Jerry Rich, a 20-year veteran of education and junior high math teacher at Naylor, echoed Hollis’ remarks.
“In my 20 years of education (nine at Naylor), this is the first time I have been a part of something like this. I think it speaks volumes about the Naylor community,” Rich stressed. “I am grateful they would take the time to pray for our school, the staff, and the children. Not only for the safety and protection while walking our hallways, but that our students will grow up to be responsible young men and women in the community.”
A huge pat on the back to church and community organizers for putting on this first-time event. I’ve been told there are other such events in the area, though this was the first time anything like this has taken place at Naylor.
And to all area administrators, teachers and school support staffs, I wish you a successful school year.
Chris is publisher of the Daily American Republic. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org.