Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center Holds Ceremony for Graduates in 21st Century Program

Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center (BLEC) recently held its annual graduation celebration for students attending Lexington School District Two Northside Middle School and East Point Academy Middle School and participating in its extraordinarily successful 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) program.

Seven eighth graders earned a certificate and medallion for outstanding academic achievement. They leave the after-school program with an exciting future of enrolling in high school during the 2024 fall semester. Sixth and seventh graders also received certificates for academic achievement.

During the ceremony, students demonstrated what they learned throughout the year through English-Language Arts and creative arts to include a performance by the 21st Century Program Ensemble. Students also recognized their parents or guardians by providing them with a certificate of appreciation.

“BLEC is pleased to offer an after school and summer camp program as an alternative to youth potentially getting involved in gang-related activities,” said Dr. Benjamin Washington, project director for the 21st Century Program. “Mentoring, athletic competition and positive engagement with adults are core components of the program. As a result of the program, students have shown better grades, improved behavior, less tardiness and reduced disciplinary issues.”

The Brookland-Lakeview Character Building; Optimal Reading and Writing; Learning through the Arts; and Achieving Math Proficiency (COLA) initiative began in 2021. It is a free, 16-week after school program during both spring and fall semesters.

The goal of the program is to provide students with academic enrichment to improve their skills in math and reading and to improve attendance in school and reduce discipline referrals by providing character building and leadership classes for at least 75 students in grades six through eight. The program also includes a six-week summer camp that is also free. To date, more than 220 students have participated in the program.

BLEC Executive Director Dr. Cindye Richburg Cotton gives the program high praise.

“We are proud that the program is making a significant difference for participating students and their parents,” she said. “The results are real and impressive, and we look forward to continuing along this path of excellence.

Another aspect of the program provides resources for parents to connect with the educational experience of their child or children. In addition, parents have an opportunity to further their own education through continuing education classes such as computer technology, mental health first aid training, sign language and more.

As a gesture of goodwill and appreciation families enjoyed a light meal and interacted with teachers, activity coordinators, parents, students and the 21st Century Advisory Board members. “Each student is unique, talented, and powerful in their own way. With the help of parents, guardians, and the community, we are changing lives and making a difference,” said Chrystal Finney, activity coordinator for the 21st Century Program.

For more information about the Brookland-Lakeview 21st Century COLA Program, please contact Dr. Benjamin Washington, project director, at 803-744-1967 or by email at [email protected]

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