Take Back Polk’s sec­ond year seeks to help 50 youth

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick kmyrick­polk­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

A pro­gram con­nect­ing chil­dren who need pos­i­tive and car­ing in­flu­ences in their lives and men­tors who can make a dif­fer­ence con­tin­ues this year in mid­dle schools in Polk County.

The Take Back Polk pro­gram launched for the sec­ond school cal­en­dar year at Cedar­town and Rock­mart Mid­dle Schools, gath­er­ing more than 50 com­mu­nity lead­ers with stu­dents who are strug­gling in their lives for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.

With dozens of youth who grad­u­ated the pro­gram this past May, Hulsey said new ad­di­tions have brought along new vol­un­teers to take part and act as a role mod­els that will chal­lenge them to suc­ceed. The to­tal be­tween the two schools for this year is 50 stu­dents in the pro­gram over­all.

“The goal is to ul­ti­mately be able to add more kids, and to be able to change some of these sta­tis­tics that we see that hurt their chances of be­ing suc­cess­ful,” Hulsey said. “We fo­cus on three top pri­or­i­ties: at­ten­dance, be­hav­ior and their grades.”

Whether it be work­ing harder to gain top scores, or mod­i­fy­ing be­hav­ior to get into less trou­ble while in the reg­u­lar class set­ting, the ul­ti­mate goal is for youth to get the guid­ance they need to make good life de­ci­sions.

No ma­jor changes are in store for the pro­gram this year, though she said a slight uptick in the num­ber of stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Progress for the stu­dents in the pro­gram isn’t mea­sured only by their grades or dis­ci­plinary record. For Hulsey and oth­ers, it has been their at­ti­tude that shows her the pro­gram is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

The pro­gram was formed last year by Hulsey for both Cedar­town and Rock­mart Mid­dle Schools with the help of Sam Branch.

Ad­di­tional help from the Polk School Dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion to get it in place in the two schools started with men­tor selec­tions in Au­gust 2017 and moved on from there with monthly meet­ings be­tween stu­dents and men­tors.

Once the sec­ond year launch is com­pleted at the end of this month, stu­dents and men­tors will gather on a monthly ba­sis, and if stu­dents meet cer­tain goals set forth dur­ing this week they’ll get chances to take part in ac­tiv­i­ties later in the year.

Hulsey said the pro­gram will likely hold off on tak­ing any ad­di­tional men­tors for the time be­ing, but that peo­ple can and have helped in other ways. For in­stance, when stu­dents get to take part in spe­cial pro­grams later this year, help will be needed in other ways.

Those in­ter­ested in help­ing the pro­gram via do­na­tions can con­tact Hulsey via e-mail at [email protected]

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