by Gwen Marshall, SPS Diversity & Inclusion Specialist
Springfield,MO—The Bridge Builders organization along with the help of the Springfield Community has completed another successful Black History Summer Academy! This year, there were 134 registered students and a nightly average attendance of 101 people.
For the first time, we added a rites of passage “Ariya” (celebration) for four young ladies. The young ladies that were presented to the community were: Eriana Alexander graduate of Republic High School, Mariah Gilmore graduate of Parkview High School, Ma-Kayla Hanson and Daelyn Jones graduates of Central High School. They were escorted by Kyran Dixon graduate of Glendale High School, Donte Reese Sophomore Central High School, Robert Galvin Jr. Senior Central High School and Javeon England graduate of Parkview High School.
The Ariya Rites of Passage purpose is to motivate African-American Women and to encourage them to pursue college after high school graduation as well as to empower them to take ownership of their futures.
This year’s Black History Summer Academy theme was entrepreneurship and innovation. The students learned about past and present inventors and produced their own products to sell during the banquet.
I would like to thank New Hope International, Pastor Lamarr Jamerson, Sanctuary of Praise, Pastor T.J. Appleby, Deliverance Temple, Bishop David Knox Jr., Pastor Edward Alexander, Turning Point Church, Springfield Public Schools and all of our sponsors for their dedication and support of this project. We would also like to recognize our sponsors: Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar, Blu Styles Barber Shop, Buckhorn Inc., Michelle Gavel, Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Homes, Minorities in Business, Sherman Street Project, Springfield Chapter of the NAACP,, Springfield History Museum, and the UNITE News Publication.
The Academy had the best volunteer staff and teachers in Springfield MO. We are looking forward to next year. Please enjoy the highlights from 2016 Black History Summer
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