With Skype, there’s no limit

Mr. Kaka’s first period math class got a unique opportunity recently, as their teacher connected them, via Skype, with his former students in Africa. A story about the experience is currently in the works, but for now, the following photographs were taken by Pride photojournalist A.J. King.

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Seventeen Reasons Why

From Pride staff reports

Aryianah King walked out for her father — for the fatal gunshot wounds to the head and chest he suffered inside a convenience store October 23, 2017.

“Seeing him lying down in a box … was traumatic for me,” she said. “So for me to speak out on (gun violence) gives me inner-peace and gives me a voice.”

Christina and Tawana Richardson left their classrooms for Desconte Bryant — a friend and classmate who would be graduating this year if a gunman hadn’t riddled his body with bullets last May.

Each of the several hundred Goldsboro High School students who made their way to the football field Wednesday morning had a reason for doing so. Some were just more comfortable talking about theirs than others.

We don’t look like the Stoneman Douglas High School students who lost their friends, teachers, and coaches when Nikolas Cruz did what he did on Valentine’s Day. We don’t come from the same kinds of neighborhoods. We didn’t know Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jamie Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrap, or Peter Wang.

But we lowered our heads and said a prayer for them this morning.

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And back in our classrooms, we talked about our own experiences with guns and mental illness — and how easy it was for the shooter to get his hands on an assault rifle.

Prophet DeVaughn’s big takeaway was what he sees as a lack of gun control in the United States.

“The government needs to tighten up on how easy it is to buy a weapon,” he said. “For example in some states in the country you can go buy a handgun at the age of sixteen. No one at that age should own a gun.”

And Awyna Greenfield said the shooting made her think about bullying and how out of control people act on social media.

So no, we don’t look like those kids in Florida. We don’t go to a school that’s considered one of the best in the country. But Shy Franklin noted that gun violence isn’t about race or wealth.

“I don’t feel like this world is safe for anyone of any race because of gun violence and I don’t think that Goldsboro is a safe place either,” she said. “There’s two people that I know and that I was close with that have been gunned down and it hurts to know that people out here are hurting and they have to go around hurting innocent people.”

So Shy and her classmates braved the cold for those seventeen minutes and watched the Student Government Association release a red balloon each minute — one for every victim of this latest horror.

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Prophet’s hope is that “those seventeen minutes could and will have a huge impact on not just the lives of the families that lost these people, but hopefully on the entire nation.”

“Each heart-shaped balloon represented each soul that was released on that tragic day. As the balloons floated away, I just couldn’t help but see it as the souls of those victims moving on and finding peace beyond this world.”

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Now, it’s up to us to ensure peace in this one.

“It’s as if those gunshots still keep ringing in my ear and it’s a sound that makes me more scared than ever,” Tatiana Eason said. “More than 100 people a day are killed by a gun in the hands of somebody who has a cold mission.”

Tawana agrees.

“Looking in on the situation this wasn’t just another ‘white kid problem.’ This was another school and another victim after victim after victim after victim. How many more victims before it actually stops? Not for one year. Not for five years. Not for twenty. Forever,” she said. “The bullying, the teasing, everything needs to stop. But the most important thing that needs to stop is asking ‘why’ when everyone knows what happened and why it happened. I will never try to justify this traumatic situation, but I will say that it is a two-way street. This isn’t the first school shooting that has moved us, but my question is why is this the first to be politically touched on?

“As you look into the whole situation you can see that they are referring back to Sandy Hook and all other school shootings but what I don’t get is, what was done to stop it? No. What was done to prevent it? Something that should of never happened did and now look. The (lawmakers) say it was a tragedy. They say it was never supposed to happen. They say that they are sorry. But what did you do to help? A sorry isn’t going to bring a life back.”

Are you my type?

Members of the Goldsboro High School chapter of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) have hosted several blood drives this year – the final one is scheduled for April 25 in the GHS gymnasium.

Their efforts have paid off. More than 200 units of blood have been donated at the school to date, which translates to more than 600 lives saved.

For more information on the April drive, check back here in the coming days. In the meantime the following photographs were taken by Brooklyn Vaughn, Shy Franklin, and Tawana Richardson.

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He lived to tell …

A Holocaust survivor told his story to Wayne County teachers and school district officials today, as educators learned strategies for teaching students about the horrors experienced by those who lived during World War II. Members of the Pride staff were in attendance and the following shots are among their early favorites. A story on the event will be published this week, but until then, enjoy the following images captured by Shy Franklin and Brooklyn Vaughn

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GHS men net comeback win

The Goldsboro High School varsity men’s basketball team trailed James Kenan by 16 points halfway through the third quarter, but then, something clicked and the Cougars remain unbeaten after an 11-point win.

The following shots by Pride photojournalists Shy Franklin and Christina Richardson represent our favorites after a preliminary look at the hundreds of shots that were taken during the men’s game — and another tough loss for the Lady Cougars.

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Almost famous

Members of the Goldsboro High School Fire Academy are on the brink of national fame thanks to Caterpillar, as the company was on campus today filming a commercial that will be used early next year in its national advertising campaign, “Be Unstoppable.”

GHS was chosen after a nationwide search for firefighters with compelling stories. GHS’ own Andrew Cabrera was identified as one of them and spent the better part of the afternoon leading his students while the film crew was rolling.

Those who want more information about the CAT Rugged Phones campaign can search social media sites using #BeUnstoppable. And for those, like us, who can’t wait to see our students and teacher in the spotlight, the commercial is set for a late-January 2018 release.

For more on this story as it develops, follow the Pride.

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When kindness takes flight

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Goldsboro High School math teacher Kyree Bethel wasn’t looking for attention. He just wanted to do something nice for a student who comes into his classroom every morning.

But when the GHS Pride crew heard that Bethel was going to give a pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes to a young man who has always dreamed about lacing up those particular sneakers, we wanted to document the moment.

Justin, the student on the receiving end, didn’t disappoint. His reaction brought many in the room to tears.

“Jordans,” he said, his lips giving way to a wide smile. “Size twelve.”

But those of us who witnessed the moments that followed — Justin kicking off his shoes and lacing up his new black and red Jordans — weren’t the only ones with tears in our eyes. Bethel choked up, too.

“It was unreal. It leaves you speechless,” he told the Pride. “It really was touching. I couldn’t look at him but for so long because I didn’t want to tear up.”

So what prompted this random act of kindness?

“Justin’s a good guy, man. I know despite everything he goes through, he still comes to school with a smile on his face,” Bethel said. “He comes into my room every day and he always asks me about my shoes.”

But Bethel understands that Justin might never be able to afford a pair of his own. And he knows that because of his pre-teaching experience as a semi-pro basketball player who played overseas, students across GHS know him as the guy who can ball — and the guy who has an amazing collection of Jordans. So he seized the opportunity to give back.

“My main thing is wanting to making a difference in somebody’s life, so I figured he can have his first pair of Jordans from me,” Bethel told the Pride. “I know that’s something that kid will never forget. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life.”

But the moving moment was not only confined to Bethel’s classroom. The Pride posted a video of Justin’s reaction on the GHS­_Cougars Twitter feed and the post went viral. And then, the unthinkable happened. Michael Jordan’s verified Twitter account commented underneath the video.

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Bethel is still floored that a seemingly small act of kindness has taken so many people aback. But he’s glad it did.

“I didn’t know it would get that far, but I’m glad it did,” he said. “It’s a blessing to me, to GHS, and to Justin and his family. I was fortunate enough to be able to give back. For it to blow up like this, it’s a wonderful feeling.”