“Shine your light” was the message Clarksdale Municipal School District Board President Dr. Bishop Zedric Clayton brought as the keynote speaker during a rally for students who earned proficient or advanced scores on the most recent state tests at the high school gym Thursday night. Proficient and advanced students, along with families and other CMSD supporters at the rally, took up nearly half the bleachers at the gym as students received certificates for their achievements. “We want to thank you for coming out this evening to celebrate our proficient and advanced students,” said Superintendent Dr. Toya Matthews. “This is something we’re going to do annually, so students, this will be done again next year, and we expect this whole gym to be packed. So encourage your friends to do what you’ve done and become proficient and advanced.”
Matthews provided the introduction for Clayton, said he has been on the school board since 2020, is the senior pastor of Olivet Fellowship Baptist Church, The Place of Outpouring in Memphis, Tenn., and was the senior pastor of The City of Truth in Clarksdale Sept. 2012 to Dec. 2021. The City of Truth grew from 35 to 700 members during Clayton’s tenure. “Dr. Clayton has a strong commitment to evangelism and community outreach, and it is his philosophy that ministry should be Christ-centered and people focused,” Matthews said.
Clayton opened by asking everyone in the gym to give the students a round of applause for their achievements. “As I have been given the task tonight to give the charge to our students, one of the things I want to begin to discuss is simply charging to shine your light,” he said. “Oftentimes, when greatness is in our lives, we are presented the opportunity to hide and dump down our abilities to be accepted by other people. And when God has put something inside of us, and sometimes because the world yields so often to mediocrity, we often begin to hide who God has created us to be in order to be able to be in certain groups and certain circles, but the truth of the matter is, our charge tonight is that if we’re ever going to be great, we have to shine our light.”
Clayton said the Word of God tells people to let their light shine, allow others to see their good works, and glorify their Father. He added that when people shine, they become an example to others. “You don’t have to yield to what others are doing,” he said. “You don’t have to yield to what others have said because when you stand out and let your light shine, sometimes you become a target. You become the one folks talk about. You become that folks are lying on. You become the one folks spread rumors about, but the truth of the matter is, the fact that people are talking about you has to mean you’re doing something good.”
Clayton said that when others spread false rumors about an individual, it signifies the person is doing something worth talking about. “So shine your light,” he said. “Shine your light until our community gets better. Shine your light until our city gets better. Shine your light until our state gets better. Shine your light when you go to college. Shine your light when you start your career. Shine your light when you start your family. Shine your light until cancer is eradicated. Shine your light until drug and alcohol addiction is no more. Shine your light until whatever purpose put inside of you becomes realized in every area and every space in your life. It is time for you to let your light shine.”
CMSD director of special services Stephanye Moton stressed the importance of the student’s academic achievements. “I want you to know some of us may never score the winning touchdown,” she said. “We may never score the winning basket. We may never score a home run, although the record shows we do those things quite well. We do them very well. That’s the record. Where it matters, though, is the classroom. You guys have shown up for us, and we, tonight, want to come and thank you and acknowledge you and celebrate you for your efforts in the classroom.
“That is what makes the difference in our school district. Encourage your friends to stay awake, do the work, and focus. You guys are trendsetters. You make the difference in the school district. Parents, you are making the difference in the school district. Students, all of you look so beautiful. You are smart, wonderful, energetic, and exceptionally talented people. You are our sweet scholars. We appreciate you for your efforts. Thank you so much. We’re looking forward to you doing this again.” District parent liaison Kameron Haymon was the program guide, and Marion Cork sang “Rise Up” by Andrea Day.