Special to Iredell Free News

The theme for the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration in Statesville is “Beyond the Walls of Division.”

The following activities are scheduled in Statesville:

Martin Luther King Jr. Program
When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Shearer Hall, Mitchell Community College, 500 W. Broad Street, Statesville
Details: The guest speaker at this event is LaToya Caesar. LaToya expresses her life’s work as an agent of change with a focus on systems leadership that advances equity and opportunity for all children. As District Liaison for Community Engagement for Iredell-Statesville Schools, she develops and implements initiatives designed to engage government leaders, businesses, community members and families in the transformative work of supporting schools with high concentrations of poverty within Iredell County. LaToya has served as a Principal, Principal of Instruction, Assessor of Aspiring Principals, Assistant Principal, Instructional Coach, and Special Education Teacher. Her work as an educator and leader has always been in Title I schools or in underserved communities. She has served in the New York City Department of Education and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools district. As a Principal, she led the transformation cycle of a charter school’s culture by reducing the student attrition rate from 46% to 15% within two school years, increasing teacher retention by 20%, and maintaining the school’s academic record of outperforming the local school district in Reading and Math in Grades 6-8. LaToya is formally trained in leadership development and instructional leadership by New Leaders for New Schools and the KIPP Foundation, organizations at the forefront of education reform. She is the 2015 New Leaders Roberts Award recipient, which recognizes outstanding school leaders who develop innovative solutions to address critical challenges within their schools. In 2016, she spoke before the U.S. Senate HELP Committee on ESSA legislation. She has led several task forces to change policies and practices related to equity, education reform, and school transformation. She is an alumni of Leadership Charlotte, and a current cohort member for Leadership Statesville, serves on the Education and Public Policy Committees for the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce, and serves on several community organization boards in Statesville. LaToya holds a Bachelors of Business Administration, Masters in Education, and Masters in Educational Leadership from the City University of New York (Baruch College and Brooklyn College). Her greatest accomplishment to date, however, is that of motherhood to her 10-year old daughter, Abby.

Youth Talent Expo
When: 11 a.m.
Where: Statesville High School Mac Gray Auditorium, 474 N. Center Street, Statesville
Details: The Martin Luther King Celebration Committee is hosting a Youth Talent Expo. It will involve Creative Writing, Art, Spoken Word, Poetry, Stepping, Dancing, Singing and Cross Culture Activities. We invite everyone to join us at this event and encourage our talented youth to participate and display their different abilities. It is an open mic event and there is no charge for admission. For more information contact mlkcommittee@gmail.com or call Myrah Lykes at (434) 579-4569, Katelyn Corcoran at (704) 880-0869 or William Jones at (704) 876-6784.

Worship Service
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Trinity Episcopal Church, 801 Henkel Road, Statesville
Details: Speakers are Overseer Myrah Lykes and Rev. Brad Mullis

Overseer Myrah Lykes was born on August 12, 1977, to Apostle Carl D. Lykes and Dr. Virginia W. Lykes. At the age of two Myrah began singing her hallmark song, I don’t believe that he brought me this far to leave me. Her first message was preached at the age of 12 at Jeter’s Chapel Baptist Church entitled, “A Name you can Trust.” In 1994, she graduated from Halifax Co. High School at the age of 16 and was diagnosed with lupus. In 1996, she married Jamie Lamar Irby and to this union Jamie II, Alexis, and Anthony were born. Alexis proceeded her family in death. In 1999, Myrah graduated from Longwood College. In June 2007, she received her masters in business administration and began pursuing her doctorate in Divinity. In 2011, she became Overseer of the youth of the Apostolic Faith Churches of Deliverance. Upon her retirement of Halifax Public Schools in 2011, she now serves as academic advisor of the Academy of Excellence where she serves students in many capacities. She is a spokesperson for The Lupus Foundation of America North Carolina Chapter and is CEO of Steps To Destiny, a nonprofit that empowers individuals who battle autoimmune diseases.

Reverend Brad Mullis has been the Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church since 2003. Prior to that, he served at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Raleigh. He grew up in Winston-Salem and got his Bachelor’s Degree from Davidson College. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s of Divinity from Duke University. He also studied at the Virginia Theological Seminary. Reverend Mullis has been privileged to speak at this service twice before. The Reverend Mullis’s wife Ellyn works at the Children’s Hope Alliance. Their two children, Sally and Charles, are in college.

Community Prayer Breakfast
When: Doors open at 6 a.m.; program 7 to 9 a.m.
Where: Statesville Civic Center, 300 S. Center Street, Statesville
Details: The guest speaker at the event will be Ms. Shanta Lightfoot. Ms. Lightfoot is an educator with 12 years of experience as a middle school teacher, central office instructional coach and administrator for Wake County Public Schools, Raleigh, N.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Education and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Developmental Supervision from North Carolina State University where she was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow; a principal certification from University of North Carolina at Wilmington; and a Gifted and Talented certification from East Carolina University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at North Carolina A&T State University in Leadership Studies. Living by her mantra, “Literacy is a civil and human right,” she ventured to EL Education, a national educational nonprofit. After one year as the Senior Professional Development Specialist supporting Detroit Public Community School District in implementation of curricular materials, student gains on the end of grade assessment outpaced the state of Michigan. Ms. Lightfoot currently serves as Director of Curriculum Partnerships at EL Education, supporting Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Her passion for equity, often positions her to be an interrupter. She interrupts belief systems, thought processes, and structures that alienate and disenfranchise the most precious to us, our children. She firmly believes that “…whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me” (Matthew 25:40). She was born in Elizabeth City, N.C. and currently resides in Raleigh, N.C. She serves at Ellis Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Winfall, N.C. Ms. Lightfoot’s triumph and testimony empowers her to be the hands and feet of Jesus, where service, a listening ear, and God-like compassion are exemplified. Her life’s mission is “just to make Jesus proud.”

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