Updated 

Pine Bluff parents bring children back to school


Parents walked their children into Southwood Elementary School on a stormy Monday morning during the first day of class on this campus and throughout Jefferson County.

Principal Alfred Carroll welcomed parents and students in the hallways and over the public address system and directed them to their classrooms. Many parents said they were excited for their children to return to school, meet their teachers, make new friends and learn new subjects. Many children wore new clothes and seemed happy to meet their teachers.

Lakeisha Wilson brought her son Kylan Hayes, who began first grade at Southwood.

“I am nervous and excited for his first day of school,” Wilson said. “I hope everyone has a good day.”

Nakita Hughes walked her 7-year-old son Tra’von Hughes through the hallway en route to his second-grade classroom. She said she drove her son and plans to do so throughout the year.

“I have mixed feelings because he is growing up so fast,” Nakita Hughes said.

Latonia Bennett made her way down the hallway with her son Trinton Bennett, who started first grade.

“The first day is always a great day,” Latonia Bennett said. “To continue your education is very important. And I am so proud.”

Larry McDonald brought his 8-year-old son Malachi McDonald, who began third grade at Southwood.

“I am excited for him to continue his education,” Larry McDonald said. “He has always been a straight-A student.”

Malachi said he is looking forward to math class, physical education class, recess and friends who he missed over summer vacation.

“I am thinking about having a good year this year and staying out of trouble,” Malachi said.

Candace and Danny Johnson Sr. brought their 9-year-old son Devin Johnson and 7-year-old son Danny Johnson Jr. Devin is entering fourth grade and Danny Jr. is entering second grade.

“This first day of school is easier for me today [than in past years],” Candace Johnson said. [In past years] I was nervous because they were so young. I really love Southwood and I am proud to be back this year.”

Danny Johnson Sr. said the first day of the school year is important in setting a stage for success. He said be brings his sons to Southwood as often as possible.

“We are actively involved in bringing our sons to school; it’s a team effort,” he said. “We start strong and finish strong. … Every chance I get I like to be here to establish a good relationship with the teachers.”

Given the option of taking his sons to another school, he opted to keep them at Southwood, he said.

Devin said he feels great and is used to being at Southwood. Similarly, Danny Jr. said he feels older and looks forward to physical education class.

Melinda Rayford walked her second-grade son Mario Rayford and first-grade son Malachi Rayford through the hallway, heading for their respective classrooms. Mario loves using computers and Malachi enjoys reading, Melinda Rayford said.

“They are getting bigger,” she said about her sons. “I am excited.”

Karmesha Qualls walked with her 6-year-old son Jabrien Scott-Cline, who is entering kindergarten. She noted a crowd of parents with children waiting in the hallway, calling it a madhouse. She wished she had gone to orientation but she was out of town.

“We are trying to find his room, get him settled and get his syllabus,” Karmesha Qualls said. “I am very happy he got accepted and happy to bring him here.”