By Christopher T. Matthews

On Saturday May 21st The Grace Community Center held it’s 33rd annual Junior High Afro-Ball for seventh and eighth graders themed “The Future Belongs to Those Who Prepared and it was open to all students through out the Toledo area and surrounding areas as well 75+ participate in the event. The event attracted 800 students.

(L-R) David Jones III, Administrative Support at Grace Community Center; Elaine Page, Director of the Grace Community Center; Jay Shavers, Youth Program Coordinator at Grace Community Center.
(L-R) David Jones III, Administrative Support at Grace Community Center; Elaine Page, Director of the Grace Community Center; Jay Shavers, Youth Program Coordinator at Grace Community Center.

Elaine Page Director of the Grace Community Center this is a celebration of being young, a rite of passage if you will; this event helps the youth to see why it is important to invest in their selves.

33 years ago Betty Amison started the Junior High Afro-Ball, we are so proud to continue this tradition, she felt that seventh and eighth graders were at a crucial time in their lives where they wanted to participate in social events such as the Afro-Ball that was for the High Schoolers says Elaine Page.

For many parents, this is the first time that their child and/or children have dressed up for a formal occasion, and have granted them the independence that will not only just be needed for that occasion but it must be developed for a lifetime says Ms. Page.

Junior High Afro-Ball 2016.
Junior High Afro-Ball 2016.

Jay Shavers Youth Program Coordinator at Grace Community Center says My major responsibility at Grace is youth development programs and physical activities, so in a event like this not only the dancing and the physical social interaction the youth are also demonstrating common core social skills such as appropriate behavior, mannerism that exhibit respect for self and/or others as well.

David Jones III, Administrative Support at Grace Community Center, says this is a great event for these young people get out and socialize and be a part of the things that are going to help form them into productive young adults.

Kristen Edwards, Office Manager/Marketing Specialist for Grace Community Center.
Kristen Edwards, Office Manager/Marketing Specialist for Grace Community Center.

Kristen Edwards, Office Manager/Marketing Specialist for Grace Community Center, says I have been doing social media tonight. We have been on Facebook and Twitter broadcasting the event as it goes along; we have been posting photos in real time so that the youth witness it, these kids are definitely on social media and this is a way to connect with them in a tasteful manner.

2016 Junior High Afro Ball is the first year where a partnership between Grace Community Center and four elementary schools, with seventh and eighth grade students, were invited because they exhibited excellence in their behavior and academics as well.

Nate Preston Principal, with Chania Williams, and Devin Hatch who collectively said that this is their first Afro-Ball and it feels good to be chosen to be here.
Nate Preston Principal, with Chania Williams, and Devin Hatch who collectively said that this is their first Afro-Ball and it feels good to be chosen to be here.

Angela Hickman-Richpurt, Principal of Rosa Parks Elementary says four schools were chosen to have 2 representatives and or VIP Students to represent Jasiah Nelums because of her academic endeavors as well as her service to the school she was chosen to be the one of the representatives this evening. This event with the proper guidance from adults will help instill a certain type of characteristics in todays youth, social etiquettes such as respect for their selves and one another, as well as being responsible young Men and Women.

(L-R) Angela Hickman-Richpurt, Jasiah Nelums, Chanell Phenix of Rosa Parks Elementary
(L-R) Angela Hickman-Richpurt, Jasiah Nelums, Chanell Phenix of Rosa Parks Elementary

Jasiah Nelums VIP student chosen to represent Rosa Parks Elementary says being of the Young Women of Excellence I feel honored to have been chosen to be here, I feel like my principal and my counselor recognized the potential in me, so I am here to represent to the best of my ability, I feel that this event will set the ball in motion for me to grow as a young lady through out my years and how I should conduct myself in the various social environments.

Chanell Phenix Counselor at Rosa Park Elementary and Pickett says I think this is a beautiful opportunity for all students city wide, their has been a lot of hard work put into putting this together and it takes a community to continue to put forth the positive energy into are youth, they are so deserving of it, we as Teachers, Counselors and Principals have to continue to raise the bars and advocate growth and development to our children as well as foster the way for them to continue to have opportunities such as this.

Junior High Afro-Ball 2016.
Junior High Afro-Ball 2016.
Front Row (L-R) Mekhi Henderson, and Cameon Jones back row (L-R) Cassius Shaw, Dallas Lockard, and Andre Taylor, collectively said the Junior High Afro-Ball is a cool, fun, nice, formal as well as social event.
Front Row (L-R) Mekhi Henderson, and Cameon Jones back row (L-R) Cassius Shaw, Dallas Lockard, and Andre Taylor, collectively said the Junior High Afro-Ball is a cool, fun, nice, formal as well as social event.

Melisa Viers Principal of Arlington Elementary we were asked to select students with good character, academics and all around well behaved. This is a great event and it is fun says Ms. Viers when asked about what did she think of the Afro-Ball. I encourage more Principals to come out to the event and be apart of the night this is a really good opportunity to be with the kids because it is something special.

Brooklyn Taylor, Melisa Viers and Byron Buchanan of Arlington Elementary
Brooklyn Taylor, Melisa Viers and Byron Buchanan of Arlington Elementary

Brooklyn Taylor of Arlington Elementary says this is a great experience, it feels good to have been chosen to be here, I feel like I have been doing a good job in school and it makes me want excel even further.

Byron Buchanan says I feel honored to be chosen to be here, this is the first dance that I ever attended, it is a good feeling and a great experience, and I encourage the up and coming seventh grader and first timers to attend.

Nate Preston principal of Winter field Venture Academy says his two students are definitely leaders within the school, they are part of Peer Leadership Program as well as Project Impact; these two are involved in a host of things in and out of school and that’s what we look for up and coming leaders of the community and that is what these two individuals Illustrate.

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