First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE -- Candi Maynor and Jonathan Locklear, his head strapped with headphones, share a computer and playfully fight over which Internet site to search next.
“I want to go to J-Lo's site,” Locklear says.
“No, I want to listen to Destiny's Child,” Maynor counters.
On this day, the two Pembroke Elementary School fifth-graders are using their time after school at the Triumph Scholars Learning Center for entertainment. Normally, the students use the Internet for studying and research.
Program Coordinator Aubrey Swett said the program begin in January 2001 with a group of fourth-graders from Pembroke Elementary. Swett said students are encouraged to stay with the program through high school.
The Triumph Scholars Learning Center is located in the Clinton L. Thomas Jr. Community Center on Godwin Street in Pembroke. The center held its open house Thursday.
The program is designed to help “underserved” young people acquire the skills necessary to succeed in the digital age.
“We learn a lot of stuff and sometimes we play games,” Maynor says.
“We learn a lot of stuff that they don't teach us at school,” Locklear says.
“All the bad stuff is blocked out,” says Maynor, giving a thumbs-up motion.
Locklear and Maynor are two of the 58 students who participate in the Triumph Scholars program. It is funded through the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, where a partnership was formed with Burnt Swamp Baptist Association and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Pembroke Elementary was selected to participate in the program. Six students at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke serve as tutors.
“Our focus is to provide education enrichment to young students through mentoring, tutoring, and technology,” Swett said. “This program will help them value their education and become more marketable for college careers. Our aim is to provide better students so they will attract colleges.
“Our long-term goal is to produce better community leaders.”
There are 28 fourth-graders and 30 fifth-graders in the program. Fourth-graders are at the center for three hours on Mondays and Wednesdays; fifth-graders go to the center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Fifth-graders Chelse Lowry and Erin Woriax said they enjoyed researching the various cultures from Egypt and Australia. Woriax said she searched the Internet to learn about the different animals in Australia.
Woriax researched the pyramids in Egypt.
Outreach Coordinator Ellen Andrade said the program is geared toward technology. Andrade said the idea is to close the gap between kids who don't have access to technology.
She said the program is also filled with fun projects.
“We want to expose them to the Internet,” she said. “It is a fun way to introduce them to research. Students will soon begin to learn how to design a Web page.
Other benefits of the program are field trips. Swett said that students have visited an interactive museum in Raleigh and the battleship USS North Carolina in Wilmington.
“I am excited about it,” she said.
Swett said he is seeking community support to make students aware of the program.
“Hopefully, this is something that the community will embrace,” Swett said.