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SCC Kept It Real At Educational Conference

Mychal Wynn addresses the audience at Solano Community College's

Mychal Wynn addresses the audience at Solano Community College's "Keeping It Real!" conference Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011.

Deborah Graham

Deborah Graham

Mychal Wynn addresses the audience at Solano Community College's "Keeping It Real!" conference Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011.

Deborah Graham, Online Editor

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“We need to understand that our children can be much more than athletes or entertainers.”

This was the message that keynote speaker Mychal Wynn left with the audience at Solano Community College’s educational conference on Saturday, September 24.  Wynn is a motivational speaker and author of 24 books on guiding educators, parents, counselors and mentors to ensure all students from primary to postsecondary have a chance at a college education.

The four- hour forum, located at SCC’s theater, brought together educators, school administration, church groups, Greek organizations, local youth clubs, parents, and many others who wanted an understanding of the tools needed to decrease the dropout rate among the African-American youth in Solano County.

Saturday’s meeting was the launch of the Solano County Educational Initiatives (SCEI) movement. The organization was created to assist and help local communities address the many challenges facing African-American youth, specifically males. Co-Chairman Peter Bostic, who is also the director of Institutional Advancement at SCC, said the organization grew out of a challenge that Solano College Superintendent/President Jowel Laguerre and Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis issued in December 2010, during a Kwanzaa celebration.

“The formula is not that complex,” Bostic said. “We start right at the beginning with our kids. We give them constant encouragement and we never let them go.”

The program started with a welcome by Jowel Laguerre, president of SCC.  He introduced trustee members and emphasized the importance as a community of having an action plan to stop the high school and college dropout rate in Solano County.

Karen McCord, professor of psychology, social science, and ethnic studies, introduced a musical rendition of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” by Umoja scholar Edward Clark with accompaniment by William Johnson.  McCord also gave the program overview and used a slide-show presentation to show statistics that emphasized the critical need for the community and educators to become involved with the educational process of African-American males.

Wynn spoke to the group about the importance of getting the African-American youth ready for college as early as middle school. His  speech, peppered with bits of humor and examples of his own children’s success story, stirred the crowd and affirmed commitments from various organizations in the audience that they would take up the call to action to not only help decrease the dropout rates, but increase college readiness.

After Wynn’s speech, SCEI committee member and co-chair Edison Kelly introduced other members of the committee.  Invitations were extended by Bostic and McCord to put their commitment plans in action by signing up with initiative representatives at booths set up in the cafeteria.

“It was inspiring to see that it was not just me trying to help the community, but to see so many other people turn out today wanting to do the same thing,” said Trina Turner, human services student . “I want to open up a group home for disadvantaged teens and I found so many people today who gave me encouragement and support.”

Kelcey Cromer, another student, thought because she did not have any children of her own that there was not anything she could take away from the conference.

“I found out though, because I do work with young people, that this conference was a wonderful opportunity to learn about different ways to help them work to advance themselves towards secondary education.” Cromer said.

Dr. Dorothy Maddox, standing at a nearby booth handing out information about the newly formed chapter of “Parent Revolution” wanted people to know that parents really need to step up their involvement in their children’s education. She emphasized the parents need to know about the trigger law which stipulates that at least 51 percent of the parents of children enrolled in a school sign a petition, that can bring about change.

“Parents need to know about this law, especially since it was recently passed in California which assists parents in the decision where their children go to school,” said Maddox. “It is our hope that we can have more forums like this to get the word out about programs geared toward transforming low performing schools into great performing schools.”

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SCC Kept It Real At Educational Conference