By Mia Fulwood
A sense of belonging in such a big world is imperative for youth today.
This is what Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks probably had in mind when she joined representatives from the county school system and Bowie State University to host an end-of-the-year pep rally April 5 celebrating school attendance among students who participated in the officer’s truancy reduction initiative, “I Belong Here!”
The initiative is designed to incentivize school attendance for students and their parents, according to Gina Ford, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office. This year’s program was implemented in three middle schools located in neighborhoods that are within the bounds of County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s “Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative.”
The campaign involves an attendance competition between seventh grade homerooms, competing against each other for attendance awards. The ultimate goal is to teach students the correlation between class attendance and performance, so that they become more invested in their education and themselves, Ford said.
Energy was at an all-time high during the event as the BSU Symphony of Soul marching band played while students from Samuel P. Massie Academy, William Wirt Middle School and Andrew Jackson Academy walked into the James Gym.
In the opening session, BSU President Mickey L. Burnim greeted the students, urging them on to continue their motivation and encouraging them to strive to attend Bowie State some day in the future saying the students belong there.
Shortly after, Angela Alsobrooks congratulated the students. “Success is a habit. You all are now in the habit of succeeding and once you begin to succeed you never stop succeeding,” Alsobrooks said. “When you work hard, there is a reward.”
Students toured the campus with representatives from the Office of Admissions and Army ROTC Cadets serving as guides. A few fraternities and a sorority showed off their steps and the middle school students participated in athletic activities with BSU athletes.
The top students honored for best attendance and most improved attendance were as follows:
- Alexis Howard for Best Attendance and Kaysa Kelly for Most Improved Attendance from Samuel P. Massie Academy
- Betty Nana Kromah for Best Attendance and Jessica Espinoza for Most Improved Attendance from William Wirt Middle School, and
- Christina Washington for Best Attendance and Janarrea Key for Most Improved Attendance from Andrew Jackson Academy.