Local students honored the legacy of slain Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., last Sunday afternoon, in a program at Centreville High. Sponsoring this 10th annual event were the Chantilly Pyramid Minority Student Achievement Committee (CPMSAC) and Centreville's PTSA.
"Our country has a long way to go before segregation is a thing of the past," said Centreville Principal Pam Latt. "But here, today, we have crossed that barrier and gathered together in honor of one of the greatest patriots and humanists of all time."
A good-sized crowd turned out for the program, called "A Lasting Impression — The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy." Those attending included Centreville PTSA president Bud Gibson, Cluster VII director Carma Norman, School Board Chairman Kathy Smith, Cluster VII coordinator Dr. Judy Ryan, Westfield High Principal Dale Rumberger, Willow Springs Elementary Principal Sandra Culmer, Centreville Elementary Principal Jim Latt and Centreville High Assistant Principal Cathy Benner.
Now in its 20th year, CPMSAC was founded by Chantilly's Shirley Nelson with the help and support of her husband Johnny. And she marveled Sunday at how the organization has always been "committed to increasing the appetite for academic excellence among our students."
"This is truly a festival that means gaiety and reflection," said Johnny Nelson at the start of the event. "The diversity will be uplifting, and this will be in complete accordance with Dr. Martin Luther King's efforts."
Shirley Nelson called him "a great, inspirational man," and her husband emphasized how King "promoted youth, peace and justice — and CPMSAC is on track with these things." They then presented gifts to Pam Latt and to program chairman Charles Ivey.
Ivey said Fairfax County Public Schools students are fortunate to have the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee — which is devoted to minority students. He also noted that it recently developed an advocacy handbook for parents, publishing it in five languages other than English.
"In order to maintain Dr. King's legacy, it's important to impress it upon our young people," said Ivey. "So we've turned today's program over to them." He then introduced the master and mistress of ceremonies, Jason Price and Paula Olson, a Chantilly High senior and junior, respectively, and the fun began.