Fremont teen tapped for state honor by club
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 25, 2013 1:46 PM
Patrick Smith, center, 17, helps Krislyn Randles, 10, left, with her homework as her brother Xavier Lucas, 9, looks on during a study session at the Fremont Boys and Girls Club. Patrick was recognized for his work helping to mentor younger students at the club.
FREMONT -- Many of the youths Patrick Smith met when he started coming to the Boys & Girls Club at 8 years old are no longer there.
"I started being the oldest, by maybe two or three years," he said, explaining that on average, students typically become busy with other activities around eighth grade.
And while he is also involved in other interests -- juggling Boy Scouts, basketball and a full load of advanced placement classes -- the 17-year-old junior at Charles B. Aycock High School remains faithful to the Boys & Girls Club.
Except now, he is also an assistant to Andreta Wooten, club director.
"I just had to take the role," he said. "Ms. Wooten lost help. We had another helper, but she drove a bus."
He admits he could have taken a different path and found plenty of other ways to spend his afternoons.
But his own experiences with the club, where his younger brother, Xavier, is also a member, made their mark early on.
"I just thought to myself what the club means to me -- why do I really enjoy coming to the club and what makes me keep coming every year?" he said. "I enjoy the kids and the activities going on.
"I just remember as a kid wanting people to help me with my homework, to be interactive. I just remember looking up to them."
And now he is in that role.
Sometimes, Smith said, the rewards are immediate.
"They smile all the time. They get to follow me around, kind of mimic me," he said. "I find that very entertaining, and I enjoy it."
That leadership potential has been evident in every area of his life.
"Patrick is a leader in the classroom. You can always find (him) helping another student," said Dawn Edmundson, his calculus teacher. "He is a great student but more importantly, he is a great role model for young people today."
In Boy Scout Troop 12, he was voted by his fellow Scouts to be the senior patrol leader.
Morris Reid, his basketball coach for the past five years, described him as a "major player" on the team and one of the team captains.
"His role on the court is to score as many points and get as many rebounds as he can to help his team win," Reid said. "When he cannot score, he would do other things to help his teammates score."
And for the third year, he has been named Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club in the northern end of the county.
What makes this year different, though, said Ms. Wooten, is that he was chosen the county's representative to compete for Youth of the Year at the state level. The event will be held the first weekend of April in Wilmington.
The honor was announced after an extensive process, which included an interview before a panel of judges and collecting endorsement letters from church, community and school, as well as two essays from Patrick -- on what the club meant to him and the importance of a post-high school education.
He hopes to go to Duke, pursue a medical degree and to become an anesthesiologist.
And explaining what the Boys & Girls Club has meant to him was a no-brainer.
"It's really made me the person that I am," he said. "I wouldn't be in this situation or any other situation. It's allowed me to meet other people that I would not have gotten to meet."
At the April 5-6 event, he will square off against 28 contestants for the state title. Friday night, that number will be pared down to five finalists, with a winner announced on Saturday. The state winner receives a $6,000 scholarship; regional youth of the year is awarded a $10,000 scholarship; and the prize for the national winner is a $50,000 scholarship.
Regardless of the outcome, Smith is philosophical about the whole process. He said he looks forward to meeting new people and reconnecting with some he's met at previous conferences.
And wherever the experience takes him, all roads bring him back to the one he himself started on nine years ago.
"The Boys & Girls Clubs of America definitely will be one of the organizations I would give back to," he wrote in his essay. "I would specifically help the Boys & Girls Club of Fremont.
"They do so much for children and parents all across America; they deserve someone to give back."