Jody Aitken gives a tour of her husband’s office Sunday as hundreds of residents celebrate the opening of Collierville Schools outside of the recently renovated main office on College Street. The new school system hosted the celebratory event and open house to usher in the inaugural school year.
By Trena Packer Street
Town of Collierville
With the temperature hovering just below triple digits, a large crowd gathered on the lawn of the Collierville Schools Administration building on Sunday afternoon to support and celebrate the upcoming school year.
Next week will mark the official start of Collierville Schools and the faith community within the town gathered together to pray for the new school system.
The ceremony began with Mayor Stan Joyner reading a proclamation declaring Aug. 4, the first day of classes, as “Excellence in Education Day.”
“With this historic day,” Joyner said, “let us all commit to ensuring that all our children receive a quality education that expands their horizons, inspires them to achieve their dreams and instills in them a confidence and character that will be their guiding light for success.”
Following the proclamation, event emcee Gray Hansen, a senior at Collierville High School, introduced student representatives from every local school and paired with community faith leaders to read scripture and pray for Collierville Schools.
Blessing families, children, school staff and administration, and the entire community, the students and faith leaders set a reverent and hopeful tone for the school year.
As the prayer service ended, attendees were invited inside the administration building to view the renovations of the Collierville Schools Main Office, and get a first-hand look at where the administration operates.
While members of the community walked the halls of the 78-year-old building, cheerleaders performed outside, football players wore their Dragon jerseys, and local vendors served up lots of food. With some attendees seated in camping chairs across the lawn, the event had the atmostphere of a pep rally.
As Superintendent John Aitken took the stage, cheers began among the crowd.
Aitken was joined onstage by State Representatives Curry Todd and Mark White, Liz Alvey from Sen. Mark Norris’s office, Shelby County Mayor Mark Lutrell, the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen, town administration and members of the Collierville School Board.
Aitken spoke about the hard work and sacrifices that the town and his staff made in order to ensure the success of the school system.
Calling his employees “the best staff in the history of the world,” he evoked rounds of applause as he thanked everyone involved in the process.
Asking Lutrell to say a few words, Aitken was in turn called “the best superintendent in the world.”
“Today is a celebration, but now is when the real work begins and that’s making all of this dream work,” said Mayor Luttrell. “I can tell by this crowd here today, that you have the resolve, the will, the parents, the kids, you’ve got a great system and the best superintendent in the whole wide world.”
More cheers erupted from the crowd as Aitken returned to continue thanking members of the community for the historic occasion.
“The fact that we started this journey with a blessing of the schools and personnel, but most importantly the students, really sets the tone for a great, successful year,” said Aitken. “I have always known that the backbone of any good school system is the parents, and baby, we’ve got it here in Collierville.”
Shortly after, he called his wife, Jody, to the stage as he spoke about family sacrifices and others involved in the creation of the Collierville School System.
During the closing remarks, Jim Jaggers anchorman with News Channel 3, commented, “In my 36 years in Memphis, I don’t think I’ve ever attended a more community-minded event than this is today. I want to congratulate you on coming together to support your new school system, superintendent and support your children.”
As the festive event continued, members of the Collierville community stayed to greet each other and gather on the lawn while sharing the excitement of the upcoming school year.