By SHERRY DIGMON
The Yellow Hat Society hosted a meet and greet Friday, June 10, to introduce newly hired school personnel – Escambia County Middle School principal Forrest Jones, Escambia County High School principal Kike Pettaway, and ECHS coach Vincent Harris.
About 70 attended the event, including the following elected officials: State Representative Alan Baker, State Senator Greg Albritton, Commissioner Brandon Smith, Councilman Chris Harrison, Councilwoman Eunice Johnson, Judge Karean Reynolds, Sheriff Heath Jackson. Board of Education members attending were Loumeek White, Mike Edwards, Coleman Wallace and Sherry Digmon, and Superintendent Michele McClung.
Jones, Pettaway and Harris were invited to speak. Following are some of their comments.
Jones, who has taught and coached in Escambia County for a number of years, said he knows some of his students from coaching their parents. His priority right now is staffing. He has several goals in mind.
“We want to focus on relationships,” Jones said. “If you don’t have a positive relationship with kids, you can’t work with them. Also we’re adding some new programs. We will move our kids forward.”
Pettaway asked ECHS grads to raise their hands. Several in the room did so.
She then asked, “Are y’all ready? Are y’all ready to bring this school back to its glory days? It’s going to take all of us. We want your support.”
She talked briefly about changing the culture at the school.
“We’ve got to build a culture of pride,” she said. “They need to see that change is coming. Be patient with me. We’re excited about this journey.”
Harris said when he told people he was coming to Escambia County, they told him he didn’t want to come here. [Harris was assistant coach at T.R. Miller in Brewton before coming to ECHS.]
He asked them, “Why? What’s wrong with these kids? They deserve to be loved. They deserve a chance in life. These kids – we don’t know what they go through…I can’t tell you how many games we’re going to win. But I can tell you Coach Harris is going to put these boys in the community as good men. I vow to return dignity, honor and pride to ECHS.”
Members of the Yellow Hat Society are Lillie Johnson, president; Teresa Dees, vice president; Vasaroy Johnson, secretary; Ruthie Adams, treasurer; Shelia Johnson-Williams, assistant treasurer / technology / public relations; Bub Gideons, adviser; Dale Ash, liaison; board members Doris Knight, Janice Reynolds, Paulette Johnson Wynn, Vonda Bynum, Judy Lawrence, Tovjivanese Wilkerson, Tonyaneka Gaskins.