Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Building bears for sick children

Sometimes putting a smile on a child's face is a simple as handing them a teddy bear, so that's exactly what two area schools decided to do.

Each year, Independence High's Dream Team, a group of senior leaders, hosts an annual Build-a-Bear drive. The project raises money to build bears for children at Levine Children's Hospital and the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital.

This year, Independence partnered with Bain Elementary and together, the schools were able to donate 600 bears to the hospital, with each of the bears costing $10.

The first year of the project in 2008-09, the Independence High students raised $750. Now in their fourth year of the service project, and with the help of Bain Elementary, the 2011-12 group exceeded their past goals and raised $7,000.

The first delivery of 250 bears was made to the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital, while the second donation of 350 bears was made to Levine Children's Hospital.

"We are so proud of our students that worked very hard to make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children at the Levine Children’s Hospital," said John LeGrand, Bain Elementary principal. "Their collective selfless and enthusiastic attitude as they worked to raise money and build 'Build-a-Bear' for the ill children has been an inspiration to me and our staff.

LeGrand said he looks forward to future projects between Bain Elementary and Independence High.

"This Partnership provides an opportunity for our high school students to mentor and model leadership to younger students, and give them an opportunity to share in the excitement of helping children that are experiencing significant health complications," said Amy Dellinger, principal at Independence High.

Photo: Courtesy of Amy Dellinger, principal at Independence High.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Scholarship opportunity for graduating seniors

Graduation is right around the corner and college will be approaching fast for high school seniors.

And if anyone is still scrambling right now to find scholarships to go to school, it's not too late. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced that the Broad Foundation will be accepting applications for$550,000 worth of college scholarships through March 1.

The scholarship funds come as a benefit to CMS for being awarded the 2011 Broad Prize winner. The Broad prize is an annual $1 million award to honor urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement, while also reducing achievement gaps across ethnic groups and low-income and non-low-income students.

Graduating seniors who receive the Broad Scholarship will receive aid based on school enrollment. Students who enroll in a four-year college program will receive $20,000 paid out over four years. Students who enroll in two-year college or technical program will receive $5,000 paid over two years.

To apply:
Click here to apply for the Broad Scholarship. Once you are on the site, you can learn more under the Scholarship Program tab. Remember, applications are due March 1.

Photo: Rick Nease color illustration of graduate standing on top of a pile of money. Detroit Free Press 2010.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

South Mecklenburg freshman earns spot in nation-wide summer program

For 10 years, a select group of students from across the country are chosen to participate in the week-long Shelton Leadership Challenge.

The challenge, which takes place at several North Carolina universities and one Ohio location, will feature a core curriculum that focuses on leadership, team building, social responsibility, integrity, public speaking and goal setting.

This year, South Mecklenburg High freshman, Jessica Goldfarb, will join other students for the summer residential experience at the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Center at North Carolina State University.

To qualify for the experience, candidates needed to demonstrate leadership skills, submit two letters of recommendation and have an un-weighted GPA of 3.0 or higher.

This year, the program will be offered in North Carolina on the campus of N.C. State University, UNC Charlotte, N.C. Wesleyan, East Carolina University and Fayetteville State University. It is also offered in Ohio at Urbana University.

For more information:
Click here to learn more about General Henry Hugh Shelton.

Photo: Courtesy of Leslie Goldfarb.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seven months in to a year-long journey to help the world

Back in October, Young Achievers introduced readers to an extraordinary family on a mission to help the world - the Lewis family.

Since July, Jackson Lewis, along with his father, J.D. Lewis, and younger brother, Buck Lewis, have traveled the globe on a mission they like to call "Twelve in Twelve."

The concept is simple - travel to 12 countries in 12 months, helping people along the way. At each stop, the family volunteers at organizations that could use their help.

The trio has journeyed across the Himalayas, worked alongside elephants in Thailand, played with orphans in China and wandered through Red Square in Moscow.

And we recently received an update about the family's journey. Seven months into their year-long trip, they have made it to Kenya.

The Lewis' spent their time working with the Health Education Africa Resource Team and School Communities Offering Projects that Empower. In Nairobi, they also visited Nyumbani, an orphanage for children with HIV. They then took a trip to Kibera, an AIDs-stricken slum in Africa.

J.D. Lewis writes in the family blog: "As we descended the dusty road, there it was. The famed Kibera slums… so unique, so surreal. Almost unbelievable, it felt like a backdrop on the lot at 20th Century Fox. Miles and miles of rusted tin shacks for as far as the eye could see. A wasteland… a village for those unable to afford better, a haven of need and disease, and sometimes violence."

Their next stop is South Africa. To follow the Lewis family blog and learn more about their travels, visit twelveintwelve.org.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Give a penny, help an eagle

For students at 15 elementary schools in Caldwell County, chipping in pocket change to help raise funds for a new eagle habitat at Grandfather Mountain was no problem.

In a two-week period, the schools were able to raise more than $9,400 that will go to the new habitat near Boone and they did so by holding a penny challenge between classrooms.

Incentives for collecting the most pennies? Each school's top raising classroom received a pizza party, while the overall top fundraising classroom received a field trip to see the animals at Grandfather Mountain.

Top honors went to Allyson Davis’s kindergarten class at Collettsville School, collecting $186.06. Tabitha Call’s fourth grade class at Davenport A+ School helped raise $185.18.

Because final totals were so close, both classes won a field trip sponsored by Grandfather
Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Other top classroom finishers in the district include Nilson, Hudson Elementary; Powell, Gamewell Elementary; Heavner, Lower Creek; Pennell, Oakhill; Becker, West Lenoir; Whittington, Happy Valley; Medlin, Dudley Shoals; Mitchell, Sawmills; Townsend, Granite Falls; Lomens, Baton; and D. Bolick, Valmead.

Photos courtesy of Libby Brown.
Top: Collettsville - Allyson Davis's kindergarten class with Penn Dameron, president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation and Principal Melissa Costin.
Bottom: Davenport - Tablitha Call's fourth grade class with Penn Dameron, president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Young Achiever presents football at Super Bowl

Congratulations to James Gale, one of our recent Young Achievers, for winning the NFL Play 60 Super Kid contest.

James, a fifth-grader at Weddington Elementary, presented the football to officials on the 50-yard-line before kickoff at the Super Bowl.

More than 10,000 fans, ages 6-13, entered the annual nationwide contest, which required entrants to answer essay questions related to health, nutrition and fitness and to pledge to be active for 60 minutes a day.

Thirty-three youths won at the local level, receiving prize packs with two tickets to a regular-season game in their market, but James was the sole national winner.

James' week was filled with high-profile encounters. As a part of the Play 60 experience, on Jan. 30 he was also asked to visit the White House.

Photos: (Top) James Gale, center, poses with game officials including back judge Tony Steratore, right, after being named the NFL Play 60 Super Kid prior to the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Bottom) At the White House on Jan. 30, first lady Michelle Obama shows photos to James Gale. At right is James' mom, Lisa Gale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Job shadowing opportunity for CMS students

Today, job shadowing can be a fundamental tool to the success of attaining employment - especially for graduates.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students from James Martin Middle and Vance High will have the opportunity Thursday to hear from officials at TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services organization in Charlotte.

In collaboration with CMS and UNC Charlotte, along with Communities In Schools, TIAA-CREF President and CEO Roger Ferguson and President and Executive Vice President of Diversified Financial Services Gene Flood, will offer advice to students.

Students will also experience a financial services job shadowing with TIAA-CREF employees representing departments such as sales, marketing, client services, product management and technology and operations.

For more information or to attend, contact Ken Luck at 704-988-1068 or email kluck@tiaa-cref.org.

Daily Schedule:
Feb. 9
10 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Welcome remarks from Gene Flood, president and executive vice president, DFS

10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Students job shadow employees

1 p.m.-1:10 p.m.: Welcome remarks from Roger Ferguson, president and CEO

1:10 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: How to choose a college major

1:30 p.m.-1:50 p.m.: How to pay for college



8500 Andrew Carnegie Blvd.

Charlotte, N.C., 28262

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fighting child abuse one T-shirt at a time

This week, we get advice from Bailey Brooks, a sophomore at North Mecklenburg High, who is taking a school project to the next level by creating project NOTICE.

The project aims to generate awareness of child abuse in Mecklenburg County by selling T-shirts and buttons. She has presented her project to the staff of Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, the Mecklenburg County Child Fatality Team, and area schools, she said.

Bailey began selling T-shirts for her NOTICE campaign in November and has raised about $800 so far. All proceeds go to Teen Health Connection and the Council for Children’s Rights.

To donate to Bailey’s cause, visit her website.

Q: What is the idea behind NOTICE?
“The main objective is to get the whole community to NOTICE child abuse and know what to do when they know or suspect someone is being abused. Though I am focusing on getting teenagers to notice and report child abuse, I believe it is just as important to have anyone know what to do when child abuse is suspected.”

Q: What inspired you to get involved?
“Over the summer, I began watching the Casey Anthony trial, and learning about the Zahra Baker trial. I realized that though Caylee and Zahra were dead, the community showed support. But then I thought, ‘The community should show support to the children before they are seriously harmed or dead. People need to NOTICE and report child abuse because two innocent lives were taken all because nobody noticed.’”

Q: What was most challenging about this project?
“The most challenging part is spreading the word to other schools. North Meck High and Piedmont IB Middle are familiar with my project, and some people from different schools have a shirt, but I want more CMS schools to NOTICE.”

Q: Was there anything you learned while researching that shocked you?
“Yes, currently there are over 127,000 abused children in North Carolina and 13,000 live here in Mecklenburg County. I learned that of all child fatalities due to abuse, 80 percent of those children are under the age of 4. I also learned that boys are more abused then girls, however one out of every three girls will be sexually assaulted before they’re age 18.”

Q: What advice would you give to kids who may have struggled with or have seen abuse in their lives?
“My advice is, don’t give up and never lose hope. When you feel like you’re all alone and nobody wants to listen to you, believe you, or love you, there is always someone.

Q: Do you have a motto in life?
“Be strong now because things will get better. It might be stormy, but it can’t rain forever,” - anonymous.

Q: What has been most rewarding about this project?
“The most rewarding thing is knowing that I am helping someone. By helping people know what to do when they are aware of child abuse, they can help prevent it.

Q: What are your plans for the future, do you hope to continue with NOTICE?
“This summer I am going to Brazil and I am going to spend some time with orphans and
spread my NOTICE project there. I will continue this project because I know how thankful people are to know what to do when they see or hear of abuse.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Teens kick off Super Bowl weekend with Souper Bowl event

If you don't have plans already for Super Bowl weekend, I've found an event to keep you busy in the Charlotte area.

While football fans will be glued to the big screen, wings in hand, teens from across the region will be participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring - a nation-wide event that collects money and food for local charities.

Teens in Charlotte will be serving those in need on game day weekend at Crisis Assistance Ministries, The Charlotte Rescue Mission, Metrolina Second Harvest Food Bank, Salvation Army’s Center for Hope and St. Peter’s Homes McCreesh Place in NoDa.

There will be a kick off event Feb. 4 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Heaton Hall at Myers Park Baptist Church, located at 1900 Queens Rd., Charlotte. For those who would like to participate, volunteering will begin at 10 a.m.

Last year, youth in North Carolina collected $328,352 in cash and food. Charlotte's project saw more than 100 youth serving in the Souper Bowl.

To get involved, contact Gerri Fieno at gerri@souperbowl.org or visit www.tacklehunger.org.

Photos: Courtesy of Gerri Fieno.