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Mayors' Prayer Breakfast delves into community concerns, religious differences

More than 300 student leaders from 42 area schools had the ear of four area mayors and Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight D. Jones Nov. 17 at Texas Station, 2101 Texas Star Lane.

The students posed questions regarding the condition of the Las Vegas Valley's educational community at a town hall meeting following the Mayors' Prayer Breakfast.

Officials from each local municipality and Jones read prayers, dined together and listened to a keynote address from Monsignor Patrick Leary, CEO of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

The Mayors' Prayer Breakfast was founded more than 50 years ago when then-Las Vegas Mayor Oran Gragson attended a President's Prayer Breakfast hosted by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The mayor was so moved by the experience that he brought the event to Las Vegas, said co-chairperson of the event, James J. Kropid.

"The breakfast brings together diverse leaders to remind us that, because of our unique strengths, we have the resources to find creative solutions to our problems," he said.

North Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Goynes-Brown said it was an honor to participate and a thrill to delve into different religious territories.

"We were asked to pick a prayer that didn't represent our faith," she said. "It just touched my heart to see the outpouring of love and respect."

Goynes-Brown read a Unitarian Universalist selection while the other mayors recited psalms and proverbs from different denominations.

Local business leaders, many of whom sponsored the student participants' meal, and select high school student leaders made up the roughly 700 attendees.

Leary addressed the younger population in the room as the "Millennial" generation and spoke to its potential.

"You will have a tremendous amount of influence in society," he said. "You are in the age of Twitter and tweets. You are connected, and you stay connected … Because you are who you are, I am greatly encouraged."

Leary lauded the generation's comfort in diversity and spoke to the underlying message of the students' attendance at the breakfast.

"It shows that while they may be different colors or religions, we all have the same issues," he said. "Unity is one of those things you build a little at a time."

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was the keynote speaker at last year's breakfast and said her successor and his audience wowed her.

"It's absolutely awe-inspiring. Not a head moved when (the) monsignor spoke," she said. "It's phenomenal. What a great community we live in."

In recent years, a town hall meeting was added for the groups to discuss issues, Kropid said.

The students' questions took aim at their job futures, school retention rates and environmental sustainability in Southern Nevada.

"To me, it's Civics 101," Kropid said. "We're immersing community into politics. It gets my juices flowing."

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at or 477-3839.