Tifton Gazette

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July 17, 2014

Annual Back to School Rally set for July 26

TIFTON — The first day of school is quickly approaching, but before starting a new year, students can take advantage of the third annual Stay in School Rally July 26.

In partnership with the Tift County Recreation Department, Mims Kids Inc. is hosting the rally from noon to 3 p.m. at the TCRD on Victory Drive for students in grades 9-12.

School supplies, refreshments and door prizes will be given . There will also be information tables set up, and students will hear from motivational speakers.

Tift County State Court Judge Larry Mims and his son, M. Jay Hall, of Mims Kids Inc., along with TCRD Director Craig Sowell, said the rally seems to grow every year.

"In the court system, we've kind of piggy-backed on a program that we're doing with some younger defendants where we will give them the option of going out to Moultrie Tech in lieu of some type of jail sentence or probation. What I've noticed is when we give them that option, we have to put in the same amount of energy and effort to try to stay on them and encourage them that we're trying to do with the kids in the regular school system," Mims said. "Those kids who have been successful, I think have been successful largely in part because they've had somebody in their life who really cared about their success and was continuing to check up on them."

"The parents are very appreciative of it, as well as the students who attend, just to know somebody cares. It's a very positive thing," Sowell added, commenting about the speakers who encourage the students.

"Some of the people in the past have talked about their successes and had not they stayed in school, they would never have been able to be where they were," he said.

Hall said he's noticed an increase of volunteers in the community asking how they can help. Those who are interested in helping can contact Hall at 392-2071.

"None of this would be possible if we didn't have the support of the community," Mims said. "We have several businesses and patrons who help us out every year by donating food, school supplies and some of them give cash donations. We really want to thank them for the support they give us, because it really makes a difference in what we're able to do for the kids."

He added that they've also had assistance from the Tift County School System with the superintendent, high school principals and basketball coaches. He commended the basketball teams who have come to the event to be a part of what's going on.

"That has to help, because these kids see them every day at school and that gives them an extra link there so they can go to them if they have a situation or problem that they need help with," Mims said.

The "Stay in School" Rally first began with Hall, who presented the idea to his parents.

"We know people have a lot of back to school events, but I wanted to do something that's more positive and motivational to the kids to actually stay in school and to learn from other people who have been through the whole process of school and college and now back in the workforce," he said.

Hall went through the Tift County School System, attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and then Georgia State. He returned home for an internship at Kelley Manufacturing Co.

"I felt like it was something that I needed to bring to the community as far as giving back and something for the kids to see that it is possible to stay in school, do things and come out and get a job in whatever it may be," he said.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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