gua: Education summit starts Saturday

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 4:22 p.m.

Local high school students and their parents will have a chance to learn about available funds to help with college expenses at a scholarship fair that is part of King Celebration 2010 events sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.

The scholarship fair will begin held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the King Center, 1028 NE 14th St., and will feature more than 35 civic and social organizations that provide scholarships. It will be held after an 8 a.m.-noon educational summit at the King Center focusing on increasing the graduation rate of black students in Alachua County. The educational summit will be sponsored by the King Commission and the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County, or 4As.

The highlight of King Celebration 2010 will be the national holiday kick-off program held at noon Jan. 18 at the Bo Diddley Downtown Community Plaza that will include a speech by the 2010 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award recipient, Eastside High School senior and future Florida A&M University Rattler Benjamin Obafemi Osoba. The annual commemorative march will begin at 1 p.m., and proceed from the downtown community plaza to the King Center, where the annual gospel program will begin at 2 p.m. The gospel program will include performances by Evangelist Gladys Ellis, Psalmist Charlotte Ellis-Colbert, Minister Sebrenah Phillips and Dequan King.

Diyonne McGraw, the chair of the 4As educational committee, said the King Commission is sponsoring the scholarship fair for the first time to provide scholarship information to local high school students who might not otherwise be exposed to the information that will be available at the scholarship fair.

"This will be a chance for people to gather scholarship information that they may not be able to get anywhere else," McGraw said. "We want to make sure that families know what is out there. The school system simply does not have the resources to inform all students of the many scholarships that are available. We are just trying to fill a void."

McGraw said the scholarship fair will also feature a presentation by Cheryl Howell-Williams, a representative from the University of Florida's College of Education's minority teacher recruitment department, and others who will discuss college admissions procedures.

McGraw said the educational summit will focus strictly on increasing the graduation rate of blacks in Alachua County, and she said a pilot program partnering the 4As and Hawthorne High School together to increase the graduation rate of blacks will be introduced at the summit.

Benjamin, the 17-year-old recipient of the Keeper of the Dream Award, said his speech at the holiday kick-off will hopefully inspire people to realize they can "uphold Dr. Martin Luther King's dream through service to the community, and that anybody can do it."

He said he will prepare to give his speech by delivering it in front of family and friends before he delivers it to the hundreds of people who are expected to be present at the kick-off ceremony. He said his role as a leader in the numerous clubs he is involved with at Eastside, including his role as a drum major for the Eastside band, will also aid him when delivering his speech.

Other King Celebration 2010 events include:

Historical Marker Dedication Ceremony: The event will include the unveiling of the National Register of Historic Places Sign at Shady Grove Primitive Baptist Church in the Porter's Community. The event will include lunch and comments from officials from the city of Gainesville, Alachua County, the 4As and more. It will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at 804 SW 5th St. For more information, call 352-870-7013.

Black History Cultural Bowl and Spelling Bee: Bowl contestants will include youth sponsored by Showers of Blessings Harvest Center, Precious Pearls, a youth group sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Mount Olive AME Church, Reichert House and Monteocha New Life Christian Center. Spelling bee contestants will include fifth-graders sponsored by Monteocha New Life Christian Center, Showers of Blessings, Mount Olive, the Gainesville Housing Authority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the Star Christian Academy. It will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the King Center, 1028 NE 14th St.

For more information, call 352-466-3320.

1st Youth Extravaganza Talent Show: This will feature area elementary through high school students participating in singing, dancing and poetry competitions. The 16 acts were selected from students from as far away as Lake Butler and Newberry in an exhaustive audition process. The event will also feature performances by The Blaze Boys from Tallahassee, The Get Loose Boys and DJ X, both from Gainesville. The master of ceremony will be J. Long Productions of Gainesville. It will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the King Center. For more information, call 352-246-8071.

Cultural Event: "A Ram in the Bush," a play by local play writer Barry McLeod. It will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy Auditorium, 2106 NE 8th Ave. For more information, call McLeod at 352-371-2700.

Commemorative Church Service: The Nu Eta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. will hold a church service Sunday at 11 a.m. at PASAGE Family Church 2020 NE 15th St. For more information, call Marlon Ivey at 305-318-2229.

Coretta Scott King Observance Program: University of Florida Student Carmen Danielle Smith will be the guest speaker at the event held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Greater Bethel AME Church, 701 SE 43rd St. For more information, call 352-335-0572.

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