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Art of Achieving

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by Kevin Walker
Winston Salem Chronicle

Annual gala honors brilliant black students As a single mother raising children in a society where black youths are likely to be a statistic rather than a success, Glenda Hayden knew that June Cleaver parenting techniques would not work for her; she had to employ more guerilla-like approaches.

“I told my kids flat-out that if I ever had to come to their school because of them acting up, I was going to embarrass them in front of their classmates … and they knew that if they ever got locked up, I was not coming to get them out of jail,” Hayden said matter-of-factly.

The fear factor worked. Her daughter just ended a stellar college career with a degree from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and her son, Troy Hayden, is a straight-A student at Carver High School who will soon be a freshman at N.C. A&T State University.

Momma Hayden also utilized other keys to ensure her children’s successes. She kept them in “The Word” and involved in programs and activities that preached and practiced the same high standards that she has for them. One of the those programs is the Winston Lake Family YMCA’s Black Achievers. Troy Hayden was one of a dozen high school seniors feted last week at the Black Achievers’ annual gala for completing the academic achievement program. Hayden also was recognized as the winner of the program’s most prestigious honor – the $3,000 Moses H. Lucas Scholarship.

“This program is the cornerstone of this (YMCA) branch,” Jarrod Covington told the hundreds gathered in the Benton Convention Center banquet hall for last Thursday’s gala. At that time, Covington was the executive director of the Winston Lake Y. He left that post last Friday to head two Y branches in Memphis, Tenn.

Y branches across the nation sponsor Black Achievers programs, in which young men and women are paired with adult business professionals for mentoring purposes. The teens also tour college campuses, local corporations and take part in community service projects. Last week’s gala also honored nearly two dozen business professionals who have committed to spend the next year as Black Achievers mentors.

Program leaders brag that Black Achievers has a near-perfect success rate. Nearly all the teens who have participated in the last 11 years have gone on to college and successful careers.

Candice Benbow, a Black Achievers alumna, is an example of that. Benbow is now the Black Achievers Program Director at Winston Lake. She credits the program with her success and says that the many longtime volunteers who help run Black Achievers gave her strong examples to follow.

“They encouraged me and they inspired me,” she said.

Benbow advised this year’s crop of Black Achievers to use the tools they have gained and to follow the sage advise of those who have worked to make them better young men and women.

“Life’s absolute best is on the way for you,” she said.

The Achievers also got an earful of advice from Darryl R. Matthews Sr.

The General President and Chairman of the Board of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Matthews delivered the gala’s keynote address. He devoted much of his remarks to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of many prominent African-American “Alpha Men.”

“What would Martin think?” Matthews asked, borrowing and altering the famous “What Would Jesus Do?” phrase.

Matthews answered the question himself, stating that King would be displeased about things such as black children who are labeled as “acting white” because they soar academically, and even about black fraternities and sororities who devote most of their time and energy to step shows rather than service and academic pursuits.

“What if we spent just a fraction of that time in a business plan competition?”   Matthews pondered.

Alpha Phi Alpha is leading the effort to build a memorial to Dr. King on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. When completed, the memorial will be the mall’s only monument dedicated to an African American.

Although about $94 million of the memorial’s estimated $100 million price tag has already been raised, physical progress on the actual structure has been slow. Matthews said bureaucratic red tape is behind the delay, with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the Department of the Interior and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation putting the project through hoop after hoop.

“We are on schedule as much as we can be,” he said. “It will be built, and it will be built soon.”

During the gala, honors were also presented to local black businesses and community icons. Police Chief Pat Norris, Fire Chief John Gist, County Attorney Davida Martin, County Commissioner Walter Marshall and Business trailblazer Brenda Diggs received Distinguished Service Achievers Awards. Mary King, the owner of Keona’s Boutique on Fifth Street; Grantheum Johnson, director of Hooper Funeral Home; William Hairston, owner of Hairston Enterprises; Ernie Pitt, publisher and co-founder of The Chronicle; and Tim Watson, one of the operators of the family-owned The Peanut House; received Minority Business Achievers Awards.

The Honorable James A. Beaty Jr., a U.S. District Court judge who is also known for his mentoring work with young people, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

After a list of Beaty’s lengthy accomplishments – which includes his 1994 appointment by President Clinton to the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina bench – were read, newly-appointed Forsyth County District Court Judge Camille Banks-Payne, who emceed the event, proved that everyone needs mentors, regardless of age or station in life.

“Judge Beaty, I want to be like you when I grow up,” Banks-Payne told the elder judge.

This year’s other Teen Achievers are: Willard Brown (Wachovia Scholarship Winner), William Burnette (N2K Scholarship Winner), Everett Dumas (Wachovia Scholarship Winner), Brittany Gaulden (Barbara Hayes Scholarship Winner), Latisha Hardee (Barbara Hayes Scholarship Winner), Jeremy Hunt (N2K Scholarship Winner), Charon Miller (Wachovia Scholarship Winner), Perry Rowdy (N2K Scholarship Winner), Conisha Solomon (Wachovia Scholarship Winner), Ryan White (N2K Scholarship Winner) and Christopher Young (Wachovia Scholarship Winner).

This year’s Adult Achievers are: Brian Anthony, KJ Bland, Tamie Caldwell, Gwendolyn Collins, Bernard Coulter, Jamma Etter, Shawan Gabriel, Sophia Kennedy, Johnathan Martin, Nisa McMillan, Patrice Mitchell, Dori-Ann Morrison, Darryl Prince Jr., Lisa Redmon, Marcie Rowdy, Annette Scippio, Kerry Wiggins, Deborah Fountain, Marcus Lane, Katherine LaNeave-Whicker and John Teschemaker.

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Written by Symphony

May 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm

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