Moving forward while looking back

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, March 8, 2016

By Rickie R. Harris

During the month of February Mustang Nation observed and celebrated Black History Month.

Outstanding programs were presented which provided the opportunity to further recognize the importance of our past. Understanding our history is necessary for moving forward into the future.


West Orange – Stark Elementary third graders presented a public performance celebrating Black History. Choir teacher Beth Brown and the elementary team did a fantastic job of creating a historical journey, which allowed our students to celebrate the lives of historical heroes. These included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and President Abraham Lincoln. Third grade students also traveled to North Early Learning Center to present the program to our littlest Mustangs. I am so proud and privileged to be the superintendent of students who take such pride in great history.


The West Orange – Stark Middle School Fine Arts Department and Black History Program Committee also presented a Black History program that celebrated the greatness of our African American heritage. Performance arts instructor Herman Jefferson and the participating departments’ presentations celebrated a broad spectrum of history. Local “Stallion Legend” honorees were also recognized: Cornelius Cooper, Franklin Gans, Dr. Anthony Moten, and Benny Smith. Thank you for your contributions to our community. Band, choir, cheer, dance, drama, art, and foreign language students, as well as community members collaborated on this excellent program.


The Black History Month Committee, led by Diztorsha Lavan and Angela Greer, at West Orange – Stark High School presented “I Am Black History.” This program, too, was exceptional. High school students hosted, emceed, sang, provided musical accompaniment, presented praise dances, performed original poetry, performed original skits, celebrated black inventors, and reflected upon other black icons. Our students did an outstanding job of honoring our past.

They also gave our community audience members a glimpse of the talent and bright futures that walk through the hallways of our school system.


Provost Umphrey attorney Ronnie Turner, Jr., was the guest speaker at the High School program. He delivered a motivational message, which encouraged our students to continue making black history. I know they will.


West Orange – Stark High School football players did make local history during the month of February. Steven Tims and Jack Dallas won respective defensive and offensive Willie Ray Smith awards. It was the first time in the prestigious awards’ 20-plus year history that two players from the same school team won the top awards. Congratulations!


I also want to congratulate the Mustangs who earned selection to the Texas Sports Writers Association’s All-State Football Teams. We are so proud of Mandel Turner-King, Steven Tims, Jack Dallas, and Thomas Wallace!


Additionally, it is important to thank Head Coach Cornel Thompson and his staff for preparing these student athletes to perform at such a high level; and thank you, as well, to the parents of these students for giving West Orange – Cove the opportunity to educate them. They have represented us so well.


And again, I would like to remind all parents to take advantage of our Family Access Parent Portal. Family Access includes student gradebook, attendance, and other data that facilitates parent and school communication. Applications and information packets are also downloadable on our website:


As contemporary author John Maxwell said, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”
Go Mustangs!


Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD