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March 25, 2017

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Faith unites leaders, 700 students at prayer breakfast

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Steve Marcus

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, left, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, center, and Councilman William Robinson, representing the City North las Vegas, stand during the Mayors Prayer Breakfast, an event that is supposed to develop leadership skills in Las Vegas’ youth, at Texas Station Thursday, November 18, 2010. The event modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Prayer Breakfast

Father Ron Zanoni, left, pastor of St. Christopher Catholic church in North Las Vegas,  Gard Jameson, center, associate pastor of the Grace Community Church in Boulder City, and Swami Ramananda of the Hindu Society of Nevada, chat before the Mayors Prayer Breakfast, an event that is supposed to develop leadership skills in Las Vegas' youth, at Texas Station Thursday, November 18, 2010. The event modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Launch slideshow »

The mayors read prayers from different religions, but they all resonated the same sentiments: love, togetherness, faith and positivity.

“Guide us on the way of peace,” said a Muslim prayer read by Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler. “Guide us from darkness to light.”

During the 2010 Mayors Prayer Breakfast, an event to celebrate diversity and bring together Las Vegas Valley high school students, prayers also were read by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, North Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tempore William Robinson and Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid.

More than 700 high school juniors and seniors attended the breakfast in a ballroom at Texas Station Hotel and Casino, after which the students could attend a town hall where they were able to ask city and education officials questions. The breakfast also featured performances by the Mariachi Los Vaqueros of Chaparral High School.

Carolyn Goodman, founder of The Meadows School and wife of Mayor Goodman, delivered the event’s keynote speech. The highlights of her speech were clear: If you don’t like something, she said, do something to change it. And if you work hard – even if you attend school in a poor public school system – it pays off.

Carolyn Goodman asked students to clasp their hands in prayer, and then open them – forming a cup.

“Guess whose cup you have? You have your cup,” she said.

“You own your own life, and no one is responsible for it but you,” she said, adding that good choices are important. “No excuses.”

Students and officials are living during a time of social, environmental and moral decay, Carolyn Goodman said. “Your generation is inheriting our generation’s mistakes,” she said.

She said diversity, and diverse solutions, could help transform the Clark County School District into one of the best school districts in the country – just like it was when she and Oscar first moved to town.

During the town hall meeting, students asked a range of questions about the state’s budget, college scholarships, sports and government.

Karli Kuhn, 17, a senior at Eldorado High School, said she enjoyed the breakfast and the town hall.

“I think it’s good for students to come to this,” she said. “A lot of students care. There’s good kids at every school.”

Lauren Kuenzi, 16, a junior at Clark High School, said she thought the breakfast and meeting were empowering.

“I think it taught us a valuable lesson about cooperation,” Kuenzi said of the prayer breakfast. “I think it reinforced the idea that everyone needs to work together.”

Judy Kropid, who co-chaired the event with her husband, Jim, said the event is important because it showcases the community’s diversity.

“We have to learn to live together,” Kropid said. “These students are going to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Each of the valley’s high schools decides which students to send to the event, she said. Each table is sponsored by donors. Proceeds from the event benefit Camp Anytown Las Vegas, a youth leadership development program.

Prayer plays an important role in the event because it is something that unifies, Kropid said. The event is modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

“For most people who believe, prayer is the strength of their life,” Kropid said. “Whatever or whoever they’re praying to is not important.”

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