01/14/07 — 36 Goldsboro High freshmen chosen for Granville Academy 'excellence' program

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36 Goldsboro High freshmen chosen for Granville Academy 'excellence' program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 14, 2007 10:39 AM

Three dozen freshmen at Goldsboro High School were inducted this week into the school's Granville Academy, designed to groom them for the world of business and industry.

Ceremonies were held at the school, with certificates presented to the charter members of the free coaching and counseling program that began this semester.

Students from the school's Freshman Academy were chosen voluntarily for the program, which will continue throughout their high school years, said Patricia Burden, principal. Each student and his or her parents also had to sign a contract of commitment to become involved.

Andrew Southerland, teacher and adviser for Granville Academy at the school, said the contract asked students to agree to attend school regularly, maintain a "C" average or better or enroll in a tutoring program and adhere to behavior and dress code rules.

"I am excited about this program," said Southerland, who noted the program was originally open to 30 students, but 39 signed up. "I know what it's going to do for our students. And I know it's going to flow over into Goldsboro High School and the community."

Ms. Burden said the academy came on the heels of the school's hosting the state Board of Education meeting in the fall.

"We talked about establishing an after school program that would allow some students to have an activity that they could engage in, to enhance their self-esteem and promote higher growth and academic achievement," she said.

An added bonus came when the county commissioners gave the school $10,000 to launch the program.

Nathaniel Vause of Kinston, president and chief executive office of Granville Academy N.C. said students will typically meet twice a month, learning fundamental skills of business, finance, science and engineering.

"We want to take these students and put the spirit of excellence in them," he said.

The group will travel extensively as a means of "getting out of their environment." They will visit corporate locations as well as colleges and be taken on field trips.

Among the trips planned this semester are attending the Black Engineers Conference in Baltimore, Md., in late February and the National Youth Conference in Princeton, N.J., in March.

Vause said the goal is to expose students to opportunities and encourage them to set goals and reach them. Its founder, William Granville Jr., is himself an entrepreneur and a former executive with the Mobil Corporation.

But perhaps most importantly, Vause said, is the fact that were it not for a guidance counselor seeing potential, Granville's life might have turned out drastically different.

A former gang leader in Trenton, N.J., Granville was facing jail when the counselor interceded and asked that he be given another chance. In 1983, he established the academy as a way of giving back to others.

"We have a lot of young people in this community that are loaded with talent and potential," Vause said. "If we don't pay attention, we're going to lose them. No telling where they could have been if we would just have worked with them."

One local example of that is Gerrod Henderson, who grew up in a housing project in Kinston. He got involved in the Granville Academy program in sixth grade and went on to attend the N.C. School of Science and Math, N.C. A&T University and Morehouse College, the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"In 2003, on the first Sunday in May, he received a degree in chemical engineering from A&T. The next weekend, he received a degree in chemistry from Morehouse College," Vause said. Henderson also holds a master's degree and is currently working on his doctorate, with plans to one day teach at the college level.

"Excellence, that's one thing that Granville will teach you," Henderson said as he addressed those about to embark on their own experience in the Granville Academy program.

"It's going to empower you to know that no matter where you come from, you're going to be empowered to excel."