I am a native of Port Allen, Erwinville, and a proud graduate of Port Allen High School. I was inspired by reading a recent letter by a fellow Pelican, Kati Gunter (“Northern WBR Needs Some ‘Skin’ in the Game”).
I agree with a lot of what she and the great Mr. Tony Clayton had to say about the differences in Port Allen and Brusly.
However, I’d like to say that while there is a game that is being played, and “skins” that are there for the taking, some people may not realize that there are people like me and my contemporaries who are trying to help. For example, I’d like to ask my fellow northern parish natives some questions about the “skins” in the game.
• Have you heard of the Westside Bulldogs youth football and cheerleader organization? We speak to people that have and many people that have not. Our organization is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, and we have averaged 120 boys and girls in our program each season. Not only do we teach kids the game of football and cheerleading, we have teachers and parents who volunteer as tutors and mentors as well for the kids. Imagine, over 1,000 children whose lives have been impacted by over many volunteer coaches and mentors every summer and fall, and there are still lots of people who don’t know who we are. We still struggle to get donations from the community.
• Have you heard of the Louisiana Ballers youth basketball organization? This organization, headed by Reynard Douglas has more than 60 kids each year that participate in their organization in the spring and summer months. Have you given your support to them, Port Allen community? If so, I’m sure Mr. Douglas thanks you. If you haven’t, why not?
• When was the last time that you’ve visited Port Allen High School and witnessed the awesome work that is being done by Principal James Jackson and his staff? Sure, they’ve had some hiccups along the way. However, they are doing a lot of great work to get rid of a negative perception of PAHS, and the kids that are coming through the youth organizations now are helping to change that perception both in the classroom and on the field, in part because of the great community mentors that some of you don’t even know about.
• Did you know that PAHS is hosting an alumni basketball tournament on Saturday, April 22? There’s over 70 former Pelicans that are participating in this event as players and staff for the tournament. Did you also know that all of the funds from this tournament will go toward scholarships that will be given to two 2018 PAHS graduates? Are you supporting this tournament?
There are many issues in the northern end of the parish, as my fellow Pelican, Ms. Gunter pointed out.
Parents need to become involved with their children. There has to be more of a “buy-in” to the community by many people. And yes, as Ms. Gunter said, many people need to educate themselves on the perception versus reality. She and I fight the same fight, even though we’ve never met. There are many other people who fight this fight as well.
We know that there is a racial, economic and educational divide in West Baton Rouge Parish as a whole, as well as the northern end of the parish that we both love so much.
I commend Ms. Gunter on her fight, and I’d ask her to keep up the fight. I know those that are fighting with me will. Maybe, we can join and fight together for the “skins” that we want to have in the “game.”
Pierre “Rick” Washington
Co-Founder of Westside Bulldogs
PAHS Class of 1997