Developing the Positive Power of Youth
With great excitement, we celebrate 27 years of training young leaders. And during this 27- year period, history has repeated itself as we continue to have a 95 to 98 percent graduation rates. However, while we are proud of our past history, this year we will break our own record, by attaining a 100- percent graduation rate. This has been made possible because some of our graduating seniors pledged to mentor 3 seniors who are now in summer school. According to the graduates bound for college in late August, “all 3 students will complete their math courses and will obtain their diplomas in August.” This is definitely a reason to celebrate the efforts of our students, advisors and board members.
Graduations were full of excitement as we watched our students walk across the stage. Five of them received Bill Gates Scholarships in the amount of $50,000 (Norman Goodson, Keshia Thomas, Kyanna Plowden & Allen Foster)—three for academic accomplishments and two for outstanding achievements throughout their tenure in high school. Nine students received scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $1,000 and three seniors received athletic scholarships.
We had 51 graduating seniors (not including the 3 seniors in summer school). Thirty are entering college, 6 are entering the military and the others are seeking meaningful employment. Six Super Leaders seniors scored over 1500 on their SATs and one student scored 1650. At Least five seniors will begin college with more than 10 advanced placement credits toward their freshman year and one student has 21 advanced placement credits. This same student received a “5” on his AP exam— the highest possible score any student can achieve--thanks you Zachary Schulz.
Our students continue to excel academically, socially and physically, as well as they continue to dominate leadership roles in most school activities. Likewise, they prove to be excellent role models. “Super Leaders are continuing to grow, learn, and mature faster than many other students, as a result of being exposed to our leadership, mentoring, physical fitness, stay-in-school and life skills programs,” according to Mr. Green, a counselor for out-of-school initiatives at Ballou Senior High School. He said he would suggest to out-of-school personnel that the Super Leaders programs be mandatory in all DCPC schools, based on the positive difference we are making with the students. Furthermore, principals constantly utilize Super Leaders as school ambassadors and office assistants.
As usual, each of our schools has participated in several community efforts—hosting blood drives, walking for the homeless, gathering food for holiday baskets, sponsoring clothing drives, mentoring other students and visiting middle schools to spread the Super Leaders philosophy. An excellent example of an outstanding community effort is attributed to Ballou Senior High School Super Leaders who received an award from the Red Cross for hosting the largest number of blood donors for any DCPS school; Our Super Leader president, Norman Goodman lead the effort.
Many of our advisors have assisted students during these economically challenging times, as some parents have lost their jobs for various reasons. However, we have called upon our community partners such as the Boys and Girls Club in Annapolis to supply counselors, food products, and transportation.
McFarland Middle School has not gone without its challenges.
We plan to partner with a food chain such as Safeway to help some of our students in that area to maintain. At least 10 students in our program are living in households where their parents have lost their jobs and two families are homeless. On the other hand, McFarland continues to enjoy a long-term partnership with the King Health Center located on the campus of the historical Old Airmen and Soldiers Home. Here, the students appreciate participating in community partnerships because the experience gives them a sense of pride. Once returning to the school the students share their enthusiasm with the other students; according to advisor, Chris Dudley. In order to have a more positive effect on the students, he stresses that a middle-school retreat is essential next semester.
Blow Pierce Middle School will return to its full- time status this September. A new principal is in place, and Mr. Gooding and I will be briefing him in late August. According to Gooding, all of the students who were in his group three years ago have graduated with honors. His daughter, who was the “Super Leaders super star of Blow Pierce”, is now attending Duke Ellington. Former Assistant Superintendent of DC Public Schools, Ralph Neal, said “Gooding’s students excel because he is one of the DCPS finest teachers and that his ability to teach math to students is unparalleled.”
The Anacostia Senior High School principal has requested that former Junior Advisor, Jacob Walker, become his interim advisor since Ms. Woods, who formerly served as student advisor, has been transferred. Jacob is home from college pending a resolution of his mother’s illness and he plans to return in February 2013. I shall be working closely with the new students and with Jacob as well, until the principal finds a permanent advisor for Anacostia.
Our “Early Warning System” which checks the status of our students’ progress throughout the year (especially those who are not attaining their full potential) has been most effective at Annapolis Senior High School. According to the principal, Advisor Ericka Wilkins, diligently worked with the counselors and teachers when students fell behind in their classes to insure all Super Leader seniors graduated. Ericka even adopted one student every weekend to prevent her from failing in her senior year. Early intervention made the difference and Ericka had a 100 percent Super Leaders graduation rate.
All of our students continue to exceed the norms and they are excelling academically and socially—dominating school activities at all levels and becoming class officers and school ambassadors.
Some of our advisors have taken advantage of CPR/First Aid and AED training offered by the Citywide Computer Training & Nursing Assistant Center as well as other training offered through various agencies. Also available is a DC Nonprofit Leadership Series available to advisors this fall. Our staff is always mindful that we must keep abreast of the times and insure the program continues to prepare our youth for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
Our physical fitness initiative with the U. S. Navy Seals will be operational in October 2013. Howard Banks, Director of Special Projects, is coordinating this 3-way partnership among Super Leaders, the Navy Seals and the DC Parks and Recreation Center at Wilson High School. In this partnership, our students will learn to swim and participate in several sports activities. We also have formed a joined initiative with the George Washington University that focuses on getting our students to pursue Advanced Placement Courses in their senior year. Another enriching initiative will be a partnership with Ballou to participate in “Developing Nationally Competitive Students Prepared for College and Careers.”
Much has been learned from attending DCPS Community Partners monthly meeting at the different schools. Here we share information on community service, Teen Outreach, AIDS prevention and Wellness, and Education and Risk Reduction. We already cover these subjects with our students in weekly meetings and at retreats, which is another reason our students are ahead of the curve in DCPS.
The guest speaker series will continue next semester to include: a Four Seasons Restaurant chef, poets, historians and health professionals. We anticipate kicking off the series with Executive Director, John Wilson, Jr. ,White House Assistant, who will cover Initiatives on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
We are a year-round program, and because of this, our students expect to be engaged in summer activities. We are having cookouts, going to the beaches and museums, and discussing subjects such as money matters, enriching body and minds, and the like.
At the office, staff members, our Chairman, and Vice Chairman are helping to get seniors ready for college by providing essential items needed. Others members are driving students to college and seeking jobs for them before they arrive at their destinations.
In summary, the entire Super Leaders family has a clear understanding of what it takes to continue the success of the program. The students have made us proud, our partners and board members have helped us achieve our goals; now we as staff members must continue to enrich ourselves and continue to insure our students reach their full potential.