West Virginia’s First Lady Cathy Justice paid a visit to the students at White Sulphur Springs Elementary School on Tuesday to discuss the importance of Communities In Schools. However, the First Lady did not come alone. Accompanying Mrs. Justice were West Virginia’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools Michele Blatt, as well as the founder of Communities In Schools, Bill Milliken.
Blatt began the assembly by asking the students if they were “glad to be back in school and back together this year,” a question to which the children responded with cheers of approval.
“I am really glad to see a school full of boys and girls,” Blatt said. “We are so excited to be here today to meet you, and to introduce you to some very, very special people.”
After being introduced by Blatt, the First Lady took the microphone.
“You know what we want you to do?” Justice asked. “We want you to come to school. You can’t learn if you don’t come to school. I know it’s hard some days, but you have to get up and come to school. [ ] Whatever you want to do in life, you will have so much help doing it. All these people here with Communities In Schools want to help you do the very best that you can. Do you know what it means to be proud of yourselves?” The First Lady’s question was met with another chorus of cheers from the students.
“Well, that’s what we want to do. We want all of you to be really proud of yourselves and know that you can do anything that you want to do. And to just be proud of who you are and where you’re from.”
The First Lady then turned the microphone over to CIS founder Bill Milliken.
“When I was around your age, I was having a lot of trouble in school because I had a learning difficulty, I had trouble reading and understanding how to put words together,” Milliken said. “Fortunately, I met a football player in Pittsburgh. He took me under his wing and he helped me because I had a lot of trouble at home and I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. But I had someone there to help me.”
Milliken then paused reflectively.
“My friends and I, we were lucky because we had help. One of them I had to help get out of prison. When he got out, we dedicated the rest of our lives to make sure that everybody has somebody who cares about them making it. You guys are fortunate to have a principal and first lady, and all the folks here that care a whole lot about you. And that’s what it’s all about.”
The assembly ran for 20 minutes. Afterward, students involved in the Communities In Schools program met privately with Milliken and the First Lady.
Once the one-on-one conversations with students were complete, the First Lady, Mr. Milliken, Deputy Superintendent Blatt and WSS Elementary Principal Tina Campbell took time to meet with The West Virginia Daily News to discuss the CIS program. We will provide a full recap of that conversation in the coming days.