Laying out the red carpet
DONALDSONVILLE – As a red carpet lined the sidewalk and entrance to the Lemann Memorial Donaldsonville Community Center, students and supporters donned formal attire to celebrate the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC), and honor eleven scholarship winners, originally slated to be just six recipients.
The event, titled Red Carpet and Scholarship Affair, is the first for MYAC, with intentions to become annual. Its purpose is to provide book scholarships to district students, and raise funds for MYAC commissioners to attend the annual National League of Cities (NLC) conference in Washington, D.C. as Donaldsonville delegates.
But more than anything, the event is to provide area teenagers with the opportunity to create, organize and manage a formal event, said MYAC volunteer coordinator, Tamiko Francis Garrison, whose daughter, Tamiko Stroud, serves as president of MYAC.
“It’s all a teachable moment,” Francis Garrison said. “It’s an opportunity to teach kids about etiquette and how to act in an environment where adults and children are interacting on a professional level.”
From the hostesses to the mistress of ceremonies, to the guest speaker, the event was facilitated by Donaldsonville teenagers. Daja Cox, who later learned she was the recipient of a book scholarship sponsored by Councilman the Rev. Charles Brown, Sr., served as mistress of ceremonies, along with Francis Garrsion.
Southern University and A&M College student, Tre’ Skidmore, a Donaldsonville native, served as the guest speaker, also later learning he had received a scholarship sponsored by Brown. In his speech, he encouraged high school students to go forth and return to Donaldsonville with what they have learned, in efforts to grow a more prosperous city for the next generation of students.
“Although our city is small, our accomplishments are great,” Skidmore said. “We need Donaldsonville to be here for our youth. We need a community that maintains a small town atmosphere, but is economically competitive with jobs – that way, our generation will want to return to our hometown and plant our roots here for the next generation.”
Additionally, scholarships and leadership awards were given from various members of Donaldsonville and Parish council, as well as founder Bernard J. Francis, Sr. whose recipient is Allegra Asberry. From the City of Donaldsonville, recipients are Meagan Brooks (Councilman Lauthaught Delaney, Sr.), Dominique A. Thomas (Councilman Raymond Aucoin), Jordynn Brown (Councilman Reginald L. Francis) and Tyler Montero (Councilman Emile Spano). From Mayor Leroy Sullivan, recipients are Lawrence Brown, III, Maerys Joseph and Jimmia Williams. Jordan P. Zeringue is the Parish scholarship recipient from Asceneion Parish District 1 Councilman Oliver Joseph.
While greetings were given by MYAC parliamentarian, Paige Joseph, later MYAC president, Tamiko Stroud addressed the audience. Stroud, who also serves as Miss Donaldsonville Teen, recognized the scholarship and event sponsors, as well as provided a more in-depth description of the NLC conference commissioners will attend in March.
Mayor Leroy Sullivan, whose leadership under which MYAC was founded gave the closing remarks, where he focused on the energy of MYAC.
“[MYAC] is a great group of young people who are very energetic and interested in learning and doing things,” Sullivan said. “I want to thank the Council for having the vision and fortitude to make sure we are doing something for our youth.”
The 2015-2016 MYAC commissioners are Tamiko Stroud (president), Katilyn Williams (vice-president), Maerys Joseph (secretary), Paige Joseph (parliamentarian), Jalon Chatman (sergeant at arms), Lawrence Brown, III (social media director), Nina Smith (co-sudit director), Jimmia Williams (co-auditor director), Whitney Baker, Kerrionne Brown, Catherine Eure, Victoria Eure, Whitney Eure and Darell Honora.
Originally starting in 1996 under Mayor Bernard J. Francis, Sr. under a different name, MYAC, founded in 2014, is the recreation of the youth council. It began with seven students between Donaldsonville and Ascension Catholic High schools and has since double to 14 members. The group’s goals include improving on issues important to youth by talking with their peers, families and neighbors about their concerns in efforts to take action to address them. MYAC Commissioners represent high school students in their schools and neighborhoods.
All MYAC meetings are open and Donaldsonville students, grades 10 through 12 are encouraged to join.