10/11/12 — Community call: Success partners

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Community call: Success partners

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 11, 2012 1:46 PM

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Daniel Weeks, right, goes over a school work list with Malik Joyner, a senior at Goldsboro High School. Weeks, student pastor at Bethel Church, is coordinating an effort to recruit adults to mentor GHS students. The "PG-13" program, which stands for Project Graduation 2013, will kick off with a meeting for the public Friday at 7 p.m. at Bethel Church on William Street.

A local church is spearheading efforts to recruit adults to work with youths at Goldsboro High School.

"We really need mentors as soon as we can," said Chretien Dumond, internal assistant to the youth pastor at Bethel Church. He also works in the church youth program, WSYM, which stands for William Street Youth Movement.

The recent murder of GHS student Kennedy McLaurin, 16, is just one reason to step up and work with youths, Dumond said.

"We believe we can turn stuff like that around and keep it from happening," he said. "We want to be proactive and get involved with these kids' lives now."

Bethel Church became more involved with youth outreach over the past year, Dumond said, after Pastor Daniel Weeks, student pastor at the church, became a mentor at the high school. Weeks was formerly a teacher in the school system before dedicating himself to full-time ministry.

The church expanded its Wednesday evening outreach service, providing a van to bring in young people.

"We reached about 50 kids from Goldsboro, about 300 kids overall," Dumond said. "That grew and they had to divide them up, so now we have a service for middle school students on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. and cater to the high school and college students at the same time on Thursdays.

"We feed them, play basketball, let them do homework."

The church staff also introduced Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings every other week at GHS, during the Cougar Enrichment period, he said, adding that approximately 130 students turned out.

As an outgrowth of the efforts, a partnership has been forged with Communities in Schools and the graduation coach at Goldsboro High, Barbara Wilkins.

Dumond said his goal is to enlist more mentors to support students at the school.

He said it will involve a two-hour-a-week commitment, working with a student and communicating with their parents or guardians.

"It definitely is a real good opportunity to stop making a point and start making a difference," he said.

A public meeting will be held Friday evening to launch the project, PG-13, which stands for "Project Graduation 2013."

"The graduation rate at Goldsboro High school is 68.7 percent," Dumond said. "Principal Tonya Faison and assistant principal Brian Weeks have been working hard over the past two years to see this trend reversed.

"Through Communities in Schools, William Street Youth Movement has been given a list of names of the juniors and seniors who attend Goldsboro High School who are at risk to not graduate with their cohort group."

The goal, he explained, is to pair an adult mentor with at least one "at risk to not graduate" student at the school.

But it is more about people than a program, he noted.

"It's about giving adults the tools and training they need to succeed in mentoring students and seeing those adults do whatever it takes to make it happen," he said. "Some students need help with motivation for attendance. Some need help with their current classes while others are going back to recover classes they failed the first time around."

The hour-long organizational meeting to introduce "PG-13" will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at Bethel Church Family Life Center, 2308 N. William St.

"We'll go over all the information about PG-13. We'll give them every bit of information, do a little bit of mentor training and then give everybody an opportunity to fill out an application," Dumond said. "We'll just make it as easy as we can for people to mentor."

For more information, visit www.williamstreetyouth.com or call Weeks at 919-734-2330.