North Carolina High School Athletic Association

Carver High School Benefits From Community Partnership


This story was provided by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system and appeared in the W Times Newspaper in Winston-Salem.


     WINSTON-SALEM—A whole host of community leaders recently stood up in front of sophomores at Carver High School and told them that they’re excited about a new program designed to help ensure the students’ success.

     The school system’s superintendent and assistant superintendent of middle and high school administration were there. So were Vivian Burke, the city’s mayor pro tem, and chief of police Barry Roundtree, along with the Rev. Toure Marshall of Grace Presbyterian Church and Trae Cotton, the vice chancellor for student affairs at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).

     There, too, were some of the WSSU students who have committed to coming to Carver High School each week both to tutor and to serve as mentors for the Carver sophomores.

     WSSU sophomore KeDarius Whitley, who is from Greenville, said he was willing to make that commitment of time and energy because, when he was in high school, the members of the sports teams would go to a local elementary school to work with the students there. He dis- covered that he liked helping in that way and looks forward to being a good leader and role model for a Carver student.

     “I hope that I can change a student’s life,” Whitley said. “If they need me, they can feel like they can call on me at any time.”

     Those tutor/mentor relationships are the heart of a new partnership with Winston-Salem State, Grace Presbyterian and Big Brothers Big Sisters, said Julie Puckett, an instructional coach at Carver.

     In the long term, she said, she hopes that the Carver students can become mentors themselves and work with students at some of the middle schools that feed into Carver.

     Other planned activities include inspirational speakers, workshops, community activities, field trips and going to Winston-Salem State sports games and cultural events.
 Carver teams are known as Yellow Jackets and Winston-Salem State teams are known as the Rams. With that in mind, the acronym for the new program is JRAMS, which stands for Jackets and Rams Achieving Maximum Success.

     The program kicked off with an assembly in the school auditorium, where several of the adults spoke. Principal Travis Taylor opened by talking about how the students of today are the hope for the years to come. “We cannot survive and prosper unless you survive and prosper,” Taylor said.

     “You are what this is all about,” said Superintendent Beverly Emory. “We want you to succeed in the greatest possible way…I’m looking forward to great things as this program grows and evolves.”

     Marshall talked about some of the positive traits that yellow jackets and rams have in common. “They know how to work hard,” he said.

     Cotton emphasized the importance of being ready for whatever life brings. He kept asking students the question, “Are you ready?” and encouraged them to be enthusiastic in their response.

     “Anytime anybody asks you, ‘Are you ready?’ your response should be ‘Yes!’”

     After the official program, everyone retired to the school cafeteria for refreshments. There, Marshall said that the partner- ship began with conversations he had with school officials, including Taylor, Puckett and Carol Montague-Davis, the school system’s assistant superintendent of middle and high school administration, about ways to expand the church’s support of both Carver and the university. Grace Presbyterian is just down the road from the high school, and the members of the church have a long-standing relationship with Carver.

     Taylor, Puckett and Montague-Davis then spoke with Cotton. His response, Montague-Davis said, was “I’m ready.”

     When the discussions began, they had no specific plans in mind, Taylor said. “It started gravitating toward a mentoring program.”

     Cotton said that one benefit for the university is that the program may lead some Carver students to attend Winston- Salem State. “We would love to see more Carver students make their way to Winston- Salem State.”

     Even without that, though, he thought it was important to participate. “To make a difference in the lives of our youth, I’m all about that,” he said.

     Marshall said that the church will serve as the host for some events and church members will help with tutoring and serving as mentors. Beyond that, they will see. “I see it as something that will evolve.”

     At the reception, Carver students were able to pick up such WSSU souvenirs as pennants and a copy of the book Success for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge.