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More than 100 attend S2C Open House

Just over a hundred rising high school freshmen and their parents attended our Scholars to College open house on Wednesday, April 2. The students had been personally nominated by a Durham educator who considered them strong candidates for our four-year high school program. The information session is the first step in a process that includes a written application and an interview.

Center staff welcomed those in attendance and gave an overview of the program and it’s goals. Parents and students were excited to learn that the Emily K Center offers valuable support in areas like time management instruction, leadership training, extra-curricular planning, career exploration, financial literacy, SAT preparation, resume writing, college application support and financial aid guidance.

The nearly one-hour program concluded with current Scholars to College seniors answering questions from students and parents.

Dr. Bray Inspires S2C Mathletes

Dr. Bray represents the epitome of the “skilled volunteer” who generously shares his passion for teaching with the young people in his community. He began volunteering as a one-on-one mathematics tutor for our Scholars to College students in October of 2011, and from the outset we knew that having a Duke professor as a volunteer tutor was something special.

Our students quickly realized this as well, with “Mr. Hugh” soon becoming our most requested tutor. He volunteered once or twice per week in this capacity for two years, always making time to work with our students while juggling the busy life of an esteemed professor and raising a family of five kids of his own.

Hugh, however, felt he could do more. This fall he came to us with an idea for a new initiative that would allow him to better utilize his skills and reach more students. The result was a new math course, dubbed “S2C Mathletes”, in which Dr. Bray teaches advanced math topics to a small group of our most talented math students. His goal is to spark their interest in STEM fields by showing them the exciting applications that lie beyond Algebra II or Pre-Calculus, while at the same time honing core math skills to ensure high performance in their courses.

It was apparent from their first session in January that this course was something the six students not only enjoyed and learned from, but were extremely proud to be a part of. As they filed back into the lobby after the first session, we saw grins, laughter, and excitement – after nearly two hours of math! “What did you learn today?” we asked Nikki, a freshman. “The theory of relativity and magic squares. It was pretty cool!” Since January, the Mathletes meet each Thursday afternoon from 4:00 to 5:45, and for these curious young minds, it does not seem like enough.

While it was clear to us early on that Hugh was a first-class volunteer, we think the students’ words provide the best endorsement. Taquoia, a sophomore Mathlete, says, “It doesn’t feel like math class at school, it’s much more fun. It’s important to have math professors like him to help us see that math isn’t boring and it’s needed in all our lives. I am glad I’m in the club.” Nikki, a 9th grader, says, “Mr. Hugh provides a great learning environment for students with his vibrant, intelligent personality. He creates a unique learning experience that students cannot get in an ordinary classroom.”

All successful people can look back at their many years of schooling and point to one teacher who showed them new possibilities for their future and inspired them to strive for excellence. We strongly believe that Dr. Hubert Bray can and will be that teacher for many of our Scholars to College students.

Our students are intelligent, inquisitive, and driven. With the comprehensive college preparatory framework of the Scholars to College program, coupled with extra opportunities provided by mentors like “Mr. Hugh”, our students can unlock their potential and discover the vast opportunities that await them in college and beyond.

Scholars March Forward

There were reporters, community members, and the winningest coach in basketball history at the Center, but all eyes were on

the 140 plus students in the Emily K Center’s K to College programs. First through eighth grade Pioneer Sch

Marching in from youngest to oldest, students took their seats while parents and well-wishers looked on. The younger students were eager with anticipation to learn who would win the coveted Dream-Do-Achieve awards given for academics, character and leadership.olars, and the high school students in the Scholars to College program, marched into the Final Four gym to celebrate another successful year of academic programming putting them squarely on the path toward college.

High school students followed next and the audience stood in respect as the seniors entered the gym, wearing a variety of colored caps and gowns from their various high schools. Although they attend school daily at different places, the seniors could not be closer, having formed a tight bond over their four years together at the Center in pursuit of college acceptances.

Executive Director, Adam Eigenrauch, welcomed the guests and thanked the lead tutors, counselors and volunteers for their unwavering dedication and support of the students.

Awards were then announced by Coordinator of Educational Programming, Heather Hindin. Glenn Green, Faith Merritt and Mishel Gomez were honored for their leadership. A seco

nd group of awards was presented to students who exhibited outstanding character.  Caleb Omari, Kevin Astudillo and Tivin Harris were the recipients in this category. The final group of award winners was acknowledged for superior academics. Adeja Cheek, Nicole Innocencio and Dasha Selezneva received the coveted academic awards for having a commitment to school achievement, pursuing academic interests with passion and showing a genuine interest in improving themselves intellectually.

Keynote speaker and Emily K board chair, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, acknowledged the hard work of all of the students and then paid tribute to the 15 seniors for their outstanding accomplishments. According to Ashlea Hitchcock, Programming and Partnerships Coordinator, the group received 30 college acceptances and more than $500,000 in scholarship funds.

“You are here, having the opportunities you do, because of the people who have come before you, your parents, grandparents or others, those people who have sacrificed for you to be here. As you go off to college, hold those people close to your heart. Never forget what they have done and if you do that you will be successful, for them, and for yourselves,”Krzyzewski said.

The seniors each received a sweatshirt from the college they will be attending in the fall and the well wishes of the entire Emily K Community.

Mother’s Day Ball Highlights

The Emily K Center’s Mother’s Day Ball was a gathering few in attendance will soon forget. There was terrific food, dancing to a DJ, and an after-hours piano bar; but a moving speech by one of the senior Scholars who has benefited from the Center’s educational program was the topper of the night.

“I always knew that I wanted to be somebody in this world, someone who wants to do good things, but I had no idea how to get there, “said Gerardo Cruz-Garza, “The Emily K Center has guided me on my path toward success. Without them I could never have accomplished everything that I have and everything that I hope to in the future,” added Cruz-Garza, who will leave for college this fall having earned a full scholarship.

Four seniors in the Scholars to College program, with 23 college acceptances between them, mingled with guests at the Center’s annual fundraiser and then thanked the supporters for their contribution to the cause.

Coach Krzyzewski, the Center’s board chair, announced to the crowd of almost 400 that the high school program would be doubling in size, news that brought the guests to their feet.

“2012 was just an outstanding year for us at the Emily K Center. We had our first class of seniors graduate and go off to college. We could tell that we were experiencing one of those times when you just know things are going right and it’s time to act. We made the decision to take advantage of that special ‘moment’ by doubling the number of kids in the program. More great kids will now be able to go to college,” said Coach K.

The Ball raised more than $200,000, a record amount for the Center.

WRAL also covered the event for the evening news and Coach K and the Scholars shared the spotlight.  Check it out here.

High School Attendees Exceed Expectations

If the number of students and their families attending the information session for our high school program is an indication of how eager Durham students are to go the extra mile in their quest toward college, then our community has great things in store!

More than 100 families attended our Scholars to College open house at the prospect of joining the Emily K classes of 2016 and 2017. Students in attendance had been nominated for consideration by a Durham educator who considered them a good candidate for the four year program. The information session was the first step in a process that includes a written application and an interview.

Families began arriving more than an hour before the scheduled session to learn about what the program has to offer. Executive Director, Adam Eigenrauch, and program coordinator, Ashlea Hitchock, encouraged students and families to consider what the opportunity and commitment would entail. Over the course of the four year period students receive valuable support including time management instruction, leadership training, targeted extra-curricular planning, career exploration, financial literacy, SAT preparation, resume writing, college application support and financial aid guidance.

Current seniors answered questions from students and their parents regarding the program. Responding to one question from a mother about how to best support her student, program senior Gerardo, shared his perspective.

“My parents didn’t go to college and they don’t know anything about the complicated college process. But they love me and want the best for me, so my dad, he can’t do as much as he would like, but he figures his contribution is to get me to the Emily K Center every week, month after month, year after year. When I graduate from college and am successful then I’ll be in a position to help my family.”

Gerardo and the current graduating class of seniors, along with more than 100 other Emily K students in grades 1-11 will take the stage on May 23 for the Center’s end-of-year celebration, the May March, where Emily K’s board chairman, Mike Krzyzewski will give the keynote address.

Third Annual Mother’s Day Ball to Support the Emily K Center

Three years ago the Emily K Center launched its first public fundraising event, the Mother’s Day Ball. The Ball was designed as an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing and as a celebration of the role of mothers in the lives of their children, exemplified by Emily Krzyzewski, the Center’s namesake and the mother of EKC board chair and founder, Mike Krzyzewski. Three years have flown by and we reflect on the success of the first two Mother’s Day Balls, where the event grew from 200 to 400 guests, with a doubling of funds raised to support the educational programming of the students at the Center. This year’s Ball, which again will be held at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, will take place on Saturday evening, May 4. We will share food, music from a great DJ, enjoy a late night piano bar and reminisce about the terrific year our students have had on their journey toward college. Whether the students are in the 1st through 8th grade Pioneer Scholars program and are sharpening skills to be ready to tackle rigorous college prep work once they reach high school, or they’re in the Scholars to College high school program and are on the path toward those coveted college acceptances, we acknowledge their incredible, hard work. We gather as a community to ensure that the economic resources are available for these programs that will enable more and more Durham students to become part of the programs as the Emily K Center Builds Scholars and Changes Lives.

For more information on the Mother’s Day Ball and to purchase tickets to join Mike and Mickie Krzyzewwski, members of our board, and several of our star seniors for a night to remember go here.

Fans and Friends Gather Before the Duke Win

Duke fans and friends of the Emily K Center came out despite the drizzly weather to enjoy a BBQ lunch before the much-anticipated Duke vs. UNC basketball showdown. The festive atmosphere was a sign of good things to come, as Duke celebrated later in the night a 73-68 win.

Guests were in high spirits as they watched past Duke victories, tested their knowledge with a Duke basketball quiz, and crossed their fingers that they would be named winners in the raffle.

Those attendees who were lucky enough to hear their names called in the raffle went home happy with  either a signed basketball, T-shirt, Duke tie, Emily K Center tote bag, Coach K’s signed autobiography, or, the grand prize, a Duke themed painting..

Even those who didn’t win were happy just enjoying bar-b-que, generously donated by Durham’s own Hog Heaven BBQ, and a cake in honor of Coach K’s birthday.

Among those who attended were Duke alumni from as far away as Taiwan in town for the game, Duke University employees on a quick lunch break, and a number of Durham community members, including representatives from the Durham County Sheriff’s Department. One of the more than 125 guests was a former Durham resident who retained his Duke basketball season tickets after moving to South Carolina over a decade ago, and came to the Emily K Center for the first time Wednesday as part of his game day revelry. Emily K board members Rick Brown and Donald Barringer and committee members Byron Hargett, Toby Matthews, Bryson Aldridge, Hank Hankla, and Kirk Wagenseller helped the staff welcome the many guests as well.

One special guest in attendance was K to College program graduate Shelly Wise, who took a break between college classes to come back for the event. Currently Shelly is completing her pre-requisite classes in order to pursue an education in nursing. When asked how Emily K has helped her prepare  for college Shelly offered just one of the many lessons, “Learning how to keep in contact and communicate with my teachers has been really important.”

The day was a great success for both Duke Basketball and the Emily K Center alike.

600 Attend Emily K’s first Food Truck Round-up and Fall Concert

Most days at the Emily K Center the parking lot is a pretty busy place. Families are dropping off kids for the K to College program. Tutors and volunteers are coming and going. Lines of elementary school kids march to and from Healthy Start and Immaculata School to use our gym. Malcolm and the Teen Career Academy are in and out all day and then tons of other folks who use the meeting rooms and gym breeze on through. But it has never, and I mean never, been as happenin’ as it was this Saturday for the Food Truck Rodeo and Fall Concert.

About 600 people filled the parking lot to hear talented Phil Cook from Megafaun and Curtis Eller play from dusk to dark.  Lots of foot tapping all around. And the biggest decision was what to eat. My fellow volunteer (and architect of the night with Rochelle and Nick Johnson of The Cookery), Toby Matthews, did it right. He started off with a few bites of my apple cider cake donut from Monuts Donuts. Spicy noodles followed from Triangle Raw Foods and I saw half a sandwich from Sympathy for the Deli on our information table (so I’m assuming he ate the other half). In hour two I believe I saw him sampling a Chirba Chirba Dumpling from another staffer’s chop sticks and as the band was wrapping up, we all caved and had pizza from Pie Pushers and some salted butter caramel ice cream from The Parlour. (how does that Toby stay so trim?)

But aside from the great food and music, the best thing about the night was the community spirit. Of the 600 folks who came, a whole lot of them were neighbors. You know how you can live on the same block as someone for years and never really know them? Well, they know the Emily K Center now. Most guests trooped into the Center for a look-see and now they can share what we do here with their neighbors and friends. Other guests are regular followers of the food trucks, the bands, Fullsteam and The Cookery and they came to check us out. A couple groups in the Fullsteam line were old friends of ours too, tutors, volunteers and the like.  No matter why all the people came, we are sure glad they did. It was blast. Let’s do it again.  After Toby runs a few laps.

From where I sit…

Pioneer Scholars got off to a great start. During orientation the students and their parents wrote down goals, hopes and dreams and tucked them away in ‘secret’ envelopes for a grand opening at the end of the year. That’s when they will compare their aspirations with their accomplishments.  My guess is that there will be a lot of exceeding expectations! I came to that conclusion after re- reading some of the end-of-year reflections from our 5th graders. Give these, “I am Proud of..” essays a quick read if you want to put a smile on your face….

“I am proud of myself because I am smart and I always make sure to do my homework. It helps me remember what I did in class and gets me ready for the next day. I am able to help others in class because I know what I’m doing. When I am older I want to go to college and I will be prepared if I keep working hard at Emily K.” –Amir

“I’m very proud about being successful in school because I know I will get the best education possible to achieve many things in life. I’m also proud because I am very honest and that means people can trust me and follow my example. Then, others will be honest too. The number one thing I’m proud of about myself though  is being giving. I give and share with people all around me. Friends, teachers, whoever! I think more people on earth should be giving”.-Fredricka
“One thing I’ m proud of is that I am nice and I set a good example for little kids. I’m also active and people should be active so they can be healthy and not get sick. I’m also friendly with many people. I’m also proud to be very responsible and organized. And I hope that I make the world a better place”-Angela

Yes, I do believe we having amazing students and we are set up to have another year where we will all be very proud. Don’t you agree?

Miss Heather

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Tyreic works on his public speaking skills

There weren’t any obstacle courses, but there was definitely a battle plan last week when the Scholars to College 10th through 12th graders showed up at the Emily K Center for Boot Camp. Drill sergeants (staff members) Heather Hindin and Ashlea Hitchock, ran the group through its paces with writing drills and public speaking exercises.

“We went on the offensive to be sure that this is the best prepared unit around,” Heather said. The plan is simple. Take advantage of the summer break to step it up in the work department. This reporter overheard Ashlea barking out orders to the troops in training.  “We’re on a MISSION here. When your friends are scrambling around trying to figure out their college application plans AND keep their grades up AND do their activities, YOU will have already researched colleges, written essays, finished your resumes, AND studied for your SATS! Right?  I said, RIGHT???” The students answered yes in unison.

And now that basic training is over, field work is about to kick in. EKC Scholars will head out to stay on college campuses, do shadow internships, and volunteer all over the city. The activities are part of each students’ Individual Summer Plans (ISP) that include an academic component, an experience that reflects a student’s career interest, and a  sustained volunteer or work experience. (no wonder these kids have such great resumes) They’ll also be checking in regularly with their lead counselors to make sure their choices are tactically sound and maybe,  just maybe, get in a little R & R before the summer flies by and the new school year begins.

Academics. Character. Leadership.

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