GCISD, in partnership with the Carroll and Keller Independent School Districts, hosted taxpayers, parents and educators at a community rally on Thursday, February 7, in support of the state's public schoolchildren. The Our Schools, Our Voice Celebration Rally at Grapevine High School was an opportunity for all members of our community to see and hear the great things happening in our public schools and get resources for how to be informed, be involved and be an advocate for their public schools. More than 1,500 people attended the rally, which featured student performances as well as comments from business, educator and parent representatives.
The purpose of the rally was to increase awareness of the programs, opportunities and quality of education provided in our schools as well as the challenges facing public education in Texas. The three districts have united with the common goal of encouraging our communities to ask lawmakers to Make Education A Priority.
Texas students and teachers have already felt the impact of $5.4 billion less in state funding as a result of legislative cuts. Additional state mandates, increased state testing requirements and reduced local control have compounded the challenges for public school districts. Program organizers say they hope to rally constituents to get educated about issues impacting their schools and districts, show their pride in Texas public schools and make their voices heard with their local lawmakers. Members of the audience were encouraged to tweet messages using the Twitter hashtag, #supportTXschools.
Master of Ceremonies for the rally was Lewis Johnson, a seven-time NBC Olympic sports analyst who is a taxpayer and parent in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. Johnson led a line-up of speakers including businessman Frank Bliss of Southlake Town Square and Nika Maples, 2007 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year from Keller ISD. Parents representing each district also addressed the crowd. Student performances from all three districts capped off an evening of celebrating public education. GCISD student performances included the National Anthem sung by Dove Elementary second-grader Peyton Lain and a multi-district student skit including elementary students Esha Gupta from Grapevine Elementary, Carter Johnson from Timberline Elementary, Hailey McNamara from Bear Creek Elementary and Will Shadle from Colleyville Elementary. The CHHS jazz choir performed selections from one of this year's concerts featuring songs by the classic rock band Toto and the GHS Drumline joined in a cadence march with drumline officers from Carroll and Keller ISDs. Heritage Elementary parent Louie Sullins delivered the call to action for parents to be informed, be involved and be an advocate for public schools.
Following the program, rally attendees were invited to visit information tables in the lobby. Representatives from each district, as well as the event speakers, were available for questions. Officials from the three districts hope that other districts in regions across the Lone Star State will join together to host similar rallies this spring in support of public education.
One way to make your voice heard is to sign a rally banner, which will make its way through the three districts on its way to Austin to show support for Texas public schools. The banner will be at the GCISD administration building on Monday, February 11, for taxpayers, employees and parents to come sign and then it will make its way to the campuses. Stay tuned for a schedule of when the banner will be at your nearest GCISD school.
Additionally, there are a few Our Schools, Our Voice T-shirts available for purchase for $10. All proceeds from shirt sales go toward covering the costs of the rally. To order a shirt, please send your name, contact information and adult T-shirt shirt size to email@example.com. We will fill orders until we run out of sizes. Children and youth sizes are not available.
Special thanks to all of the student performers and guest speakers who helped contribute to the rally and all the taxpayers, teachers and parents who attended the rally. You can help keep the conversation going on social media by using the #supportTXschools hashtag on Twitter and visiting the rally website at www.supportTXschools.com.