Seniors find Success in Boys & Girls Clubs

http://www.macon.com/news/local/education/article151975722.html

Boys and Girls Clubs paved way for seniors’ success
BY ANDREA HONAKER ahonaker@macon.com


Bright futures are on the horizon for 24 area high school seniors, and their success started with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Georgia.

This is the second year that all of the organization’s 12th-graders have graduated on time, and it’s the first time the entire senior class has been accepted into college, technical school or the military.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Georgia has five Macon locations, one in Warner Robins and one in Metter, and a new club is opening Forsyth by the fall. Seventeen of this year’s seniors are members of the Carl D. Thomas Memorial Club in Macon, and the others go to Macon’s King-Danforth or Buck Melton Center locations or the Warner Robins Club, said Rebecca Richard, the organization’s vice president of development.

They are graduates of Central, Westside, Southwest and Northeast High schools and Mount de Sales Academy. The seniors were honored during a ceremony at the Buck Melton Center on Thursday night.

“We get a chance to celebrate with them one of the most exciting things that are going to happen in their lives, graduation from high school,” said Harold Hatcher, senior area director. “We just want them to go out and do great things to help their community and make Macon proud. We’re Boys and Girls Club members for life, and we cherish that.”

Most of the students have earned scholarships to help with their education, he said. BJ Sharpe has a full football scholarship to Fort Valley State University, and Tanzania Dinkins will study law at the same school with a HOPE scholarship.

Kenterious Goolsby is going to study electrical engineering at Georgia Southern, and he’s received the HOPE scholarship, Peyton Anderson Scholarship, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia’s Al Lucas Memorial Scholarship and a Taco Bell Foundation scholarship. All three are Southwest students and members of the Carl D. Thomas Club.

Many of the seniors have been going to the Boys and Girls Club since they were 5 or 6 years old, Hatcher said. The organization gets young people focused and gives them the foundation to have academic success.

Their afternoons at the club are structured, with time for studying and tutoring as well as recreation, Richard said. Members gain life skills that aren’t taught in school.

Deshaun Bryant, a Southwest senior who plans to study medicine or pharmacy at Paine College in Augusta, said the Carl D. Thomas Boys and Girls Club helped him mature and Hatcher became the father figure he’d never had before.

The students said they learned how to be confident and think positively, and their mentors taught them that the sky is the limit and they should never give up. The seniors have strengthened and empowered themselves, and they are mentors and role models for the younger kids, Hatcher said.

“It helped me further my education and life. It taught me how to be myself,” Dinkins said.

Boys and Girls Clubs are “strategically located” in high-risk areas where kids need extra support, Hatcher said. The graduating seniors will come back from college or the military with the knowledge to make their communities better.

Tricia Velasco