Hi West Bankers, my name is Yetoria Lumpkin DeShazier, and I am your new West Bank columnist. I am very happy to share with you the “good news” on the West Bank.

Let me tell you a little more about myself. I previously worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years and informed readers by writing a community calendar, health news and Knights of Columbus news. Now, I’m back writing a column.

I remember my 10th-grade English and literature teacher Ms. Rose Mae Smith instructing us to write in our journal the first 10 to 15 minutes of her class. She would be happy that a student of hers is a neighborhood columnist for The New Orleans Advocate.

I am a native of Perry, Ga., and I have lived in Harvey for the past 21 years with my husband, John, and our son, Trey. I graduated from Valdosta State University with a bachelor’s degree in office administration and information processing.

Now, enough about me; I’m here to serve you. I often hear people say, “There is no good news in the paper.” Well, here’s your opportunity to send me your good news. You can reach me via email at ydeshazier@gmail.com. Please email me at least two weeks prior to your events. Include the name of the event, when and where the event will be held, and if there is a cost. Also include a phone number.

Back to school

Students in Jefferson Parish public schools began classes Friday, and kindergartners and pre-K began Wednesday. Orleans Parish students in grades one through 12 reported Monday.

Just as we prepare for the material aspect of school, Household of Faith Worship Church International in Harvey recently held a seminar on teaching young people how to defuse a situation when bullying comes into play. Pastor Antoine M. Barriere and first lady Dale Barriere, of Household of Faith Worship Church International, invited Grand Master Augustus “Peewee” Blanco to speak on how to defuse a situation. Even though there were lots of laughs, Blanco quickly spoke on the seriousness of bullying and self-defense.

Blanco said the goal of martial arts is to stop a fight before it starts. He asked the students, what is a bully? A bully is someone who tries to control your attitude and actions, Blanco said.

“Your attitude and mental skills help you to think of a way to stop a fight before it happens. Your actions and physical skills help you gain control of your body. This gives you confidence to defend yourself.”

He gave the youths three martial arts tips: balk — back down and think of nonviolent alternatives; talk — try to reason with the bully; and walk — walk away and get help from a teacher or parent. Martial arts teaches us how to protect ourselves; how to stay healthy and physically fit; and, most importantly, how to stop a fight before it starts, he said.

Blanco began karate in 1972 at the age of 8. He has competed in and won many tournaments throughout the United States and has been rated by both the National Blackbelt League and Southern Louisiana Association of Martial Arts.

Blanco was a member of the Dream Team, which won the USKA team sparring championship for three consecutive years. He also won the USKA men’s middleweight sparring division championship for four consecutive years.

Blanco has been teaching martial arts since the age of 18 and has been an active participant in the sport for more than 41 years. He was inducted into the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2001 as Master of the Year — Shotokan. In 2012, Blanco won two world titles at the Super Grands sport karate tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. Blanco teaches martial arts with his wife, Adrienne, at Blanco’s Martial Arts Academy in Marrero.

To learn about preventive measures on bullying, visit the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/data_stats.html.