King Solomon Baptist Church program a success in first year

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, August 30, 2018

In 2017, King Solomon Baptist Church on Oak Ridge Road opened an after school program called The Academy that met each Wednesday during the school year to provide tutoring and values education to children from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The program has begun its second year, and church officials say attendance is up over the program’s first year.

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“In our building on Wednesday nights it’s just like Sunday morning, and needs the level of coordination as well and volunteer support,” King Solomon pastor the Rev. R.D. Bernard said. “Every Wednesday night has become a big event.” The program has been expanded, he said, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to 6 to 8 p.m.

Bernard said the academy was developed “to help bridge the gap between the home and the public school and the church in terms of teaching the basic values to children.

“Most of the homes in Vicksburg/Warren are increasingly single parent, and when a single parent is working hard for the basics, sometimes basic values are not a part of the basics, and we work hard to fill in that gap.”

He said The Academy’s successful first year was due in part to the recognition by the community that a program like it was needed.

“Every segment of the community realized the need for all of the supplemental teaching and values that the public schools can’t provide,” he said. “The public schools can barely get the reading, writing an arithmetic done. (And) they are prohibited from some of the more outward religious and value teachings.

“Every sector of the community realized the need for it and supports it, and that has been so wonderful for us. That everyone sees the need for it and has done their part to help support it by wanting to know more about it, by encouraging people to come by and visit, and by volunteering.” He cited the efforts of the members of Crawford Street United Methodist Church who volunteered four times during 2017.

Helping children

He said The Academy has received its 501(c)(3) designation and now has a board of directors that meets periodically to develop program policies and programs.

Bernard said the main thing the program’s officials learned was “the overwhelming need for helping children.

“Many of our children are hurting, and there are some basic needs that are not being met,” he said. “ “We started out not providing a meal at Wednesdays meetings and providing a snack. Now we provide a full meal. We also provide, if there is a need, juvenile counseling services.

“We’re doing more; we’re networking to get children what they need, because children need so much, and the level of hurt that we see in the community I guess has been the most surprising thing. Just the overwhelming need — human need, how much the kids hurt because of the decision of parents.”

Bernard said the children have taken to the lessons learned at The Academy to heart, pointing out that the community leaders who visit the program and attend the monthly community forums comment on the children and how well disciplined they are.

And there are academic success stories.

“We lost some really good kids to college last year,” Bernard said, adding three 12th-graders who participated in The Academy are at the University of Southern Mississippi, including one senior who scored a 31 on the ACT. Another student is taking honors courses on scholarship at Jackson State University. More, he said, are attending Hinds Community College.

“All of our seniors graduated last year and all are in college this year,” Bernard said. “That’s what we desire and we push. We want the 10th-graders getting ready for ACT and getting as much education as they can. And we are working heavier on the early elementary grades this year. We’ve got  a lot of youngsters.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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