Summer academic program celebrated

The first Pine Bluff Summer Academic and Cultural Enrichment Program was celebrated Monday at Oak Park Elementary School.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth was joined by Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson, sponsor representatives Monica Hastings of Calpine Corp. and Sandy Horn of Evergreen Packaging and several student participants for the occasion.

Hollingsworth and Watson said they were pleased by the program’s success, which they believe was a product of the partnership between the city and school district. They also recognized and thanked the sponsors, who made the program possible at no cost to either the city or school district.

In addition to Calpine and Evergreen, sponsors included Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Simmons First National Bank and Relyance Bank.

Oak Park Principal Suzette Bloodman spoke about how “excited and engaged” students were throughout the program. Bloodman said about 85 percent of the 185 students earned honor roll status with their achievements.

“We are pleased with the results of the program and look forward to future financial support from businesses in order for us to incorporate all of the city’s three school districts — Pine Bluff, Dollarway and Watson Chapel — in next year’s program,” Hollingsworth said.

The mayor, who has repeatedly stated that the three keys to Pine Bluff’s economic development are “education, education, education,” pledged during her campaign to formulate partnerships between the city and schools.

“I think the best investment we can make at any point in time is one beneficial to our youth,” she said. “If it’s healthy for our youth, it’s helpful to us all. Our children and their children will reap the dividends of our support for years and years to come.”