Lancaster, TX/Lancaster ISD – Lancaster ISD’s Rosa Parks/Millbrook Information and Software Design Academy students spent memorable moments on their campus with members of the Prairie View A&M (PVAM) Panthers Football team on Friday, October 6. The Prairie A&M team was in town for their State Fair Classic weekend of competitions and of course, the Prairie View vs Grambling Game.
While in town, the team read books and shared stories with the Rosa Parks students, played basketball and spoke to the students about college life and their great potential to one day be in their shoes.
Prairie View A&M University Athletics Operations Specialist Tim Smith is a 2004 Lancaster High School graduate who also played football for the Panthers and is now pursing his master’s degree at the university. He shared the value of their Give Back Day visit.
“It is important that students see that you can come from anywhere in life, become someone and do great things,” he said. “Students need to see adult role models and people whom they can look up to and understand that they too can be whatever they want to be in life.”
Rosa Parks Millbrook Elementary Assistant Principal Rickyl Wesson was excited to see the students’ response to the visiting college athletes.
“The impact the PVAM Football Team had on our students was powerful. I cannot even put it in words,” she said. “Some of our students only hear about these type of things…they only wish they could meet a college athlete or even meet a college student.”
Rosa Parks Millbrook Principal Dr. Marlon Waites, who is also a proud alumnus of Prairie View, simply stated as he thanked the team for their time, “You just do not know what your presence on this campus did for my children on today.”
Later, he shared more.
“It meant the world to me to have my alma mater interacting with the students. The athletes were able to show what I am always speaking about—PV produces productive people,” he said. “What they did for my children here today, was priceless.”
The vision of Lancaster ISD is that all students will achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy and the district aims to ensure that students graduate with More Than a Diploma. With this initiative as the district’s focus since 2009, the students and staff have cultivated and nurtured a strong college-going culture.
For more than five years, more than 90% of Lancaster High School graduates are accepted to a college, university or the military before they receive their high school diploma. In addition, the district has held the highest graduate rate in the Best Southwest area for more than five years and integrated college awareness activities in early childhood, elementary and secondary student groups.
For Dr. Waites, this on-campus college awareness experience had a direct correlation with the district’s goals and education initiatives.
“A college experience provides students with a chance to be exposed, meet people from all over, and try things they have never tried,” he said. “Our goal is to shift the mindset of our students to think past just getting a diploma. Seeing African American men being productive, while also being a student-athlete, further put that goal into perspective.”
In appreciation for the time spent on the campus, the Panthers presented the campus with a football helmet and jersey autographed by the players.
The Prairie View Panthers pick a campus each year to host their local give back day and for 2017-2018, it was Lancaster ISD’s Rosa Parks Millbrook Information Systems and Software Designs Academy. The Student Services Division of Lancaster ISD helps to coordinate real life connections for students in the areas of mentorship, leadership and social excellence and help to coordinate this visit.