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Elkins Park Leadership Academy Program Hosts Annual Tie Ceremony

tie ceremony participants(April 7, 2022) After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, 17 sixth graders participated in the seventh annual Elkins Park School Leadership Academy Program’s (LAP) high impact tie ceremony this past week with a virtual audience of nearly 100 family, friends and community members watching. 

Dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, responsibility and unity, the LAP is an after-school program for boys of color which aims to eliminate the achievement gap. Throughout the year, the students have worked on enhancing their leadership skills, fostering strong relationships, and learning what it means to be positive role models to their peers. Group sponsors Tai Crutchfield, Quyntyn Gaston, Derek Pittman and Cyd Smith subscribe to the Frederick Douglass quote, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

The program began with reflections from Smith, who told the audience “Our students are important and precious. This is the highlight of my year.” Gaston implored the youths to make sure “your voice is always heard.” Superintendent Dr. Brian Scriven referenced the students will be moving on to Cedarbrook next school year and that they should “carry forward what you’ve learned here to Cedarbrook, and continue to set yourselves apart.” 

Before Dr. Scriven and board member Charles Burdell-Williams began handing out ties to the young men, Pittman led the students in the LAP leadership pledge. Then one-by-one, the students came to the front of the room to collect their blue and gold ties and shake hands with Dr. Scriven, Burdell-Williams, club sponsors and community mentors. Once all the students had their ties, all of the adults, including Grace Baptist Church of Germantown Pastor Rev. Dr. J. Henry Buck, helped them tie their ties.

The program wrapped up with Pryce Alston, Elijah Saintildor and Shikeith Odoms reciting the Langston Hughes poem “I, Too,” then the students went around the room talking about their career aspirations, which included CIA agent, animator, cardiologist, biologist, pilot, math teacher and police officer. Those who proclaimed their aspiration to be professional sports also announced their back up plan. The program closed with a “Thank You” from LAP participants Rodney Firmin and Aaron Ince.