Freedom School Scholars

Friday, June 23rd 2006, 10:18 am
By: News On 6

Its not often that you have children excited about summer school, but Freedom School organizers say their students can't wait to get there. The literacy program got started this week and there's already a waiting list.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims went to find out why.

"Something inside so strong so strong I know that I can make it, make it! Though you're doing me wrong so wrong." It’s a message of empowerment to start the day. Even the ones, who don't quite know the words yet, get a helping hand and sing along. Its all part of Freedom School at 105 East 63rd Street North, a modern day adaptation of a program started during the civil rights movement.

Project director Dr. Wennette Pegues: "Just learn and have fun and have everything about them at all times is positive. Nothing is negative at Freedom School." That positive attitude permeates every aspect of this five-week literacy enrichment program.

From instructors bubbling with enthusiasm, to rooms decked out in themes like fun in the sun and African safari, even the terms they use. "We dot call them kids, they're scholars. They're always referred to and you'll see signs around here that out students are scholars.”

Freedom School scholars read from a selection of books, focused on diversity, picked by national educators. And every week they get to take a book home.

Ashley Powell says at first some of the little scholars weren't so sure about the program, one cried the whole first day. "But I promised him that we were gonna have a lot of fun and he would want to come back the next day. And he has been here every single day on time. He loves it he brought his whole family in."

That attitude change is important. The instructors want these kids to know they can make a difference. Dr Wennette Pegues: "If one child stays out of jail, stays out of the cemetery and has a positive future doing what they want to do, then the whole thing was worth it."

Freedom School has 200 elementary kids enrolled and another 40 high schoolers. The $180,000 program was paid for through private donations.