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During dinner, conversations about the upcoming New Orleans service project filled the room. After dinner, the incoming class of 2014 Jeter's Leaders were introduced. As they made their way to the front, they received their very own Jeter's Leaders jersey. They also received a copy of Derek Jeter's autobiography, "The Life You Imagine."
Later in the night, awards were given out to current Leaders for their individual leadership and academic accomplishments throughout the 2009-10 program year. Following the awards, all of the graduating seniors were given a Derek Jeter autographed Leadership plaque from the Turn 2 Foundation, as well as a stipend for completion of the program to use toward future academic endeavors.
After all the awards and accolades were handed out, the Leaders enjoyed the rest of the night dancing and singing along to the band. The new inductees are excited to be starting their journey in the Jeter's Leaders program, and the graduates are looking forward to their upcoming college experiences. They promised to continue their relationship with the program by becoming active members of the Jeter's Leaders Alumni program.
Kalamazoo Central entered the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge earlier this spring where they competed with over 1,000 other hopeful high schools. The competition was initiated by President Obama to highlight innovative high schools that demonstrate outstanding educational success, student engagement, and college and career readiness. After Kalamazoo Central was declared a top six finalist, over 170,000 voters put them into the top three where the president would make the final decision. On May 4, 2010, it was announced that the president had chosen Kalamazoo Central! As recognition for their hard work and important role in the Kalamazoo Public School system and the community, all members of the Jeter's Leaders program were invited to attend the special event.
Many people stood in line most of the day to be a part of history. Not a single seat remained empty for the occasion. The Kalamazoo Central graduating class entered the building with the traditional commencement march, Pomp and Circumstance, played by Kalamazoo Central's symphonic band. As the commencement started, thousands of graduating seniors, family, friends, teachers and faculty anxiously awaited the words of the president. The crowd was calmed by the first words spoken by Principal Von Washington, however; they erupted when the president was introduced and took his seat on the stage. The president joined the crowd in listening to the introductory speakers KPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice, as well as the valedictorian and salutatorian.
The remarkable Kalamazoo Promise award allows graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools a tuition-free education at the Michigan state school of their choice. The president quoted the Promise's motto, "Every child, every opportunity, every time." He reminded the students that an anonymous group of people chose to put their faith in them to be successful and that they should not forget to put their faith and success in society. "... understand that your success in life won't be determined just by what's given to you, or what happens to you, but by what you do with all that's given to you; what you do with all that happens to you; how hard you try; how far you push yourself; how high you're willing to reach. True excellence only comes with perseverance."
At the conclusion of his address, President Obama joined the Kalamazoo Central faculty as they called the students by name to receive their diploma. He shook each and every student's hand telling them that he was proud of them and their accomplishments.
President Obama's attendance is a testament of the hard work Kalamazoo Central and the greater Kalamazoo community is doing to advance their children. Each graduating senior and member of the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders will hold onto this day for many years to come.
Girls on the Run is a character-development program that educates and prepares elementary and middle school girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. The Turn 2 Foundation and the Jeter's Leaders have supported the Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run program for many years through financial assistance and volunteer efforts. At the Wondergirl 5K, the Jeter's Leaders showed their support once again by cheering for the girls and serving refreshments throughout the race.
It was a perfect day for the event. The sun shined brightly and the weather was just right -- not too hot and not too cold. The Leaders made colorful signs and wore foam fingers on their hands. In high spirits, the group made their way to their designated spot on the corner of Burdick and Dutton Streets. As soon as they saw the first group of girls, they started hollering and cheering as loudly as they could. They blew their whistles and waved signs of encouragement. The roaring Jeter's Leaders did not fail to excite the participants. Even the Leaders who served drinks to rehydrate the girls showed their support by telling them all what an amazing job they were doing. The young girls smiled in appreciation and even made the effort to run a little faster as they passed them by.
After an hour and a half of supporting the girls, the final runner, tired but determined to finish her race, passed by the Jeter's Leaders' cheering section. As the Leaders were packing up their signs and whistles, they reminisced about the fulfilling experience. They were proud to have been able to motivate the younger girls at their biggest event of the year.
On a monthly basis, the Jeter's Leaders visit each of the after school programs to facilitate mentoring activities based on Derek Jeter's 10 Life Lessons. "Set Your Goals High", "Find Role Models" and "Be Serious, And Have Fun" are just a few of the lessons discussed. Although these topics are important to youth development, building a strong relationship between mentors and mentees is an essential component of mentoring. Like the Blanket Project earlier in the year, this trip gave the participants another opportunity to develop their relationships in a fun and exciting new environment.
The day was filled with food, fun and beautiful weather! The Leaders arrived first and started their visit with an educational hayride across the farm where they saw many of the farm's animals. After the ride, the Leaders made themselves comfortable in the garden, eating natural pork hot dogs and sipping on lemonade.
Toward the end of the day, the Jeter's Leaders rounded up all of the younger children and organized a baseball game. It was the Jeter's Leaders against the after-school participants. After the first inning, it was clear who would be victorious. The younger, after-school students outperformed the Leaders so drastically that they quit keeping score!
In the end, all of the students left feeling happy and appreciative of their time spent together. The students are looking forward to the next time they can hang out and play another baseball game!
The Blanket Project was hosted at the Douglass Community Association, home to the PTBM-Douglass program. In addition to making blankets, the project gave children the opportunity to spend time with the other programs' participants. Each work station had at least one member from each program. After the younger students were grouped together, a mentee from the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders joined.
The groups were given two large pieces of fleece. The Jeter's Leader then cut six-inch slits along all four sides about two inches apart. The students spread themselves out around the table and together assembled the two pieces of fleece by tying knots so that the two large pieces were connected together. After two and a half hours they had made 30 blankets; quite an accomplishment in such a short time! To end the activity, the participants enjoyed pizza, soda and dessert for their hard work.
The Blanket Project has inspired the Turn 2 Signature Programs to come together again in the next program year to do a similar activity. The project showed the children that they could make a difference in their community, one blanket at a time.
This past spring the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders visited Atlanta for their annual Spring into College Tour. They visited a number of schools including Georgia Tech University, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Emory University. The students learned a lot about the schools and the area and even encountered a few Jeter's Leaders alumni along the way.
The first three colleges the Jeter's Leaders visited were all in close proximity to each other -- Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University. The tour began by breaking up into groups according to gender. The male students visited Morehouse College (an all-male school) and the female students visited Spelman College (an all-female institution). At Spelman, the lady Leaders met with two recent New York Jeter's Leaders alumnae, Jaleesa Diaz and Iman Bastian, who served as the group's tour guides. Senior Leader, Maria, commented that, "Spelman was a beautiful college, enriched with empowerment for the souls of women." Maria hopes to go to Spelman after spending two years at Western Michigan University. Other Leaders commented on the school's inviting atmosphere.
After the groups finished their individual tours, the Leaders reconvened to travel a short distance to Clark Atlanta University. After lunch at CAU, the Leaders found themselves caught in the middle of a step show by several Morehouse and CAU fraternity brothers. The moves, language and tone of the brothers captivated the Leaders so much that they almost forgot that they still had more to see!
At Emory, the Leaders were given a special tour by Kathryn Downes, another New York Jeter's Leaders alumna. Kathryn is working toward a graduate degree in public health and showed the group much of the campus while featuring the O. Rollins School of Public Health. In one of the buildings, the Leaders entered a room with a mosaic piece depicting the evolution of medical technology. A professor saw the Leaders on the tour and stopped to talk in depth about the history of the mosaic. After the visit, the Leaders headed back to their hotel to prepare for one of the highlights of the trip, an Atlanta Hawks basketball game.
On the way back to Kalamazoo, the Leaders reflected on their experiences in Atlanta. They were all appreciative of the opportunity to visit a new city and learn about the fine colleges and universities they may attend in the future.
The Leaders started their tour at Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich., where they heard details about Ferriss academic courses, acceptance requirements and financial aid. The tour guides explained campus security and sports options while giving a tour of the dorms. The Leaders saw many important places on campus such as the library and the student athletic center. Afterward, they headed to Ferris recently renovated cafeteria and ate among current students.
After lunch, the Leaders left Ferris State and headed to Central Michigan University. Upon arriving in Mount Pleasant, Mich., the Leaders went bowling in CMUs student recreation center. This was a fun time that highlighted one of the activities CMU has to offer outside of the classroom.
Continuing the tour the next morning, the Leaders ate a quick breakfast and were on their way to learn more about CMU. They walked the entire campus and saw all of the different dorms. A few of CMUs unique buildings are its radio room and library. The library featured electronic-sliding shelves so students can get to different books faster and easier. The Leaders ate another meal in the university cafeteria enjoying the food and atmosphere. Following lunch, the group made their way to the bus to head back home to Kalamazoo.
The Leaders learned a lot about each school and the many aspects of college life. It was a fun trip and increased their anticipation of going to college while lessening some of the anxiety.
The Leaders had been planning the party since last summer and learned that it takes a lot of preparation to put together an event of such magnitude.
"The thing I liked best about the Halloween Haunting event was that we put it on all by ourselves. It was fun to make all of the plans and decisions and take on the responsibility," said Katie, a senior in the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders Program.
On the day of the party, the Leaders arrived and went straight to work setting up the games. To get in the Halloween mood, many of the Leaders wore their Halloween costumes. When the after-school children arrived, many of them were also dressed in costumes. They made their way from game to game, enjoying the action and having fun with the Leaders. Everyone loved getting candy prizes for playing the games. There was also a lot of food including hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks. To add a festive touch to the event, the Leaders invited a DJ to play music that everyone enjoyed.
After a few hours of mingling and playing, the children made their way back to their buses with candy in hand and smiles on their faces. The Leaders were very proud that their event turned out as well as it did and hope to host more events like this in the future.
When they arrived, they found out that the first thing on their itinerary was dinner. "Starting off the retreat with food was a great idea!" said J'Nairo. The Leaders were able to catch up and start to learn a little bit about each other over the meal.
Following dinner, the Sherman Lake Outdoor Center staff led the group in some team-building games. All of the Leaders had to say something about themselves that they thought the others would not know. Next, they formed teams and had to try to solve a problem together. This was a great way for the Leaders to learn how to work together.
The next morning was spent in a planning session for the upcoming program year. "The most important part of the retreat was talking about the 2010 Jeter's Leaders Leadership Conference," said Robert. "I'm a sophomore now, and my mindset is more focused on that event." The Leaders were also able to make many choices about upcoming community service projects, mentoring, Conference workshops, and college tours.
"The most important part of the retreat for me was coming together as one and helping all the Leaders to step up their leadership skills," said Zach, a senior in the program. The Leaders all had a fantastic time getting to know each other during the retreat and were excited to start the year with such an upbeat gathering.