A handful of local high school students ended up with a valuable signature in their yearbooks, and even more valuable life lessons, after a surprise visit from a civil rights legend yesterday.
Cole Harbour District High principal Lynda d’Entremont said Rev. Jesse Jackson popped by the school unexpectedly, taking the time to speak candidly with students.
“He stopped and signed yearbooks,” d’Entremont recalled not long after the Baptist minister had breezed in and out of the school for an hour-long visit that left an impression that will long be remembered.
“It was unbelievable, really.”
She said she received a call from Jackson’s aide yesterday morning, who asked if the school wanted the African American icon to stop by, and after letting the information sink in, she declared “absolutely!”
Shortly before 11 a.m., Jackson showed up and treated all the staff and students who could squeeze into one classroom to an inspiring speech about the importance of focusing on the positive and staying away from the negative.
“He spoke very genuinely to the kids regarding planning their futures and taking control of their lives,” d’Entremont said.
Jackson told his enthralled audience, and reporters inside the school, “make the choice and get the right consequence.”
“Choose futures over funerals,” he said. “Use your skills to make life better for all of us.”
Grade 12 student Jaleel Simmons told CTV News one lesson learned is that “I have to do what I have to do to make sure that I can be the best person I can in life.”
Jackson’s sincerity will stick with the teens for a long time to come, d’Entremont said, including the many African Nova Scotian students who attend the school.
Jackson was here to speak at a Nova Scotia Co-operate Council banquet at the World Trade and Convention Centre last night.