Over the past two weeks, I had the pleasure of attending both of ELEVATE’s Parent’s Nights. These events are held for both Oak Ridge and Evans High School, as well as for their feeder middle schools. Leading up to the Parent’s Nights, I saw the extensive preparations done by the ELEVATE staff, from planning speeches, to getting food, and even coming up with fun raffles for the parents and students to partake in. It was quite apparent that Parent’s Night is a huge deal at ELEVATE! It is necessary for us to reiterate our efforts and garner the support of the parents so the things they are learning at school can also be implemented and expected at home. The number of parents and guardians who attended in support of the students was amazing, and the students were obviously excited to be able to share their school life and activities with their parents.
Multiple ELEVATE alumni who are currently in college came to Parent’s Night just to volunteer. The parents were able to witness the effect that ELEVATE will have on their students long term. This demonstrated the tight-knit family aspect that each student in ELEVATE enjoys. This was further shown when Carroll Merand, an ELEVATE student, told me that, “ELEVATE always gives me someone to talk to and a mentor in all aspects of my life, no matter how personal. They are my lifelong family.” The positive comments from the students to me in front of their parents really reconfirmed the monumental positive impact ELEVATE is having.
Throughout the night, the ELEVATE team explained all the character qualities that ELEVATE plans to instill in the students and what kinds of activities and events the students will be participating in throughout the year. For me, the highlight of both nights was when the guest speaker stepped up to talk about ELEVATE. At Oak Ridge’s Parent’s Night, Ms. Dennard (a mother who had two children go through ELEVATE and one who is currently in the program) said, “The impact ELEVATE has had on my children is outstanding. I’m a single mother, and I now have two children in college solely thanks to ELEVATE’s help and to the mentor’s giving my children a vision and the tools to accomplish their goals.” Ms. Dennard’s speech was quite moving, demonstrating how much ELEVATE can impact the children’s lives if the parents get behind the mission and encourage progress. Mrs. Fleurima, a parent of ELEVATE alumni at Oak Ridge, furthered this by saying, “I know some of you parents with two or three jobs don’t get to see much of your kids and get to know them. ELEVATE gives you peace of mind by giving them a mentor who will always be there for them.”
At Evans Parent’s Night, the guest speaker demonstrated how effective ELEVATE is from an entirely different perspective. Elijah, an alumni of the ELEVATE program, spoke to the parents about how being in the program during his high school experience greatly altered his outlook on life and his self-growth process. Elijah said, “My little brother and I don’t have a father in our lives. I’m so grateful to ELEVATE for teaching me that a man is not defined by what he comes from, but by what he does with what he has and how he shows love. Because of ELEVATE, I am now able to act as a responsible father figure for my brother.”
By seeing real life examples of how effective ELEVATE is both at a child and parent level, I can honestly say that all the parents and students in attendance left feeling so grateful to have ELEVATE as a part of their lives.