ABOVE PHOTO: In above photo are: (l tor) Raheem Brock, Eleshea Smith, Tyree Henderson, Bernard Hopkins, Devon Williams, Damion Cox, and Jamil Caldwell.
Communities In Schools of Philadelphia honored high-school graduates during its 2012 Senior Luncheon hosted at the Lowes Hotel. Over 300 high-school seniors that participate in CIS of Philadelphia’s programs, such as Philadelphia Freedom Schools (PFS), Student Success Centers and the ELECT Teen Parenting Program, a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and CIS of Philadelphia, were recognized for graduating and for their commitment to academic achievement.
During the luncheon, select students shared their success stories with the audience. Jamil Caldwell, a senior at Mathematics, Civics and Science Charter School and a PFS participant, reflected on how his PFS experience helped him earn the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS). Jamil explained, “Philadelphia Freedom Schools prepared me for the academic rigor and persistence that I needed when applying for the scholarship, as well as maintaining the grades and activities necessary to qualify.”
After students shared their success stories, World Champion Boxer, Bernard Hopkins addressed the students as the keynote speaker. Hopkins discussed his troubled path and told the students that in order to achieve success they must get out of their own way. “I was my biggest problem, ” he said. “I prevented my success. You all have to make the decision to be successful.” Hopkins then added that because of the solid foundation that CIS of Philadelphia has given to them, each student at the luncheon would be successful.
NFL Player Raheem Brock talked to the students next. Brock told the students that people told him he was too small to play professional football, but he never let their negativity deter them from his goals. Brock’s message to the seniors was to never let anyone prevent you from achieving your dreams.
As the luncheon came to a close, students left the event feeling inspired and motivated to enlarge their vision for their life. “Today’s event showed me that no matter what problems I face in life, if I stay focused on my goals and dreams I will be successful,” said Shayante Taylor, a senior at The Promise Academy at Martin Luther King High School.
Every year the senior luncheon showcases our students and provides an opportunity for others to see the successful outcomes of the tremendous impact of the CIS model and service delivery our staff continues to provide to students. As we see resources and funding continue to dissipate throughout the Philadelphia community, it is even more evident and important that our organization is in schools to bridge the gap and provide critical support to students so they stay in school, graduate, matriculate to post secondary programs and become future tax paying, law abiding citizens.