Clark County Black & Hispanic Achievers program shows continued civic commitment

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Developed in partnership with Clark County Public Schools and the Clark County Equity Coalition, Clark County Black and Hispanic Achievers has served students and the community in countless ways since the 2023-24 school year began. 

Saturday, March 23rd would be no different. 

As part of the beautification process for downtown Winchester, students with the program repainted painter boxes and also received fellowship from luminaries of Clark County. 

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“”I had talked to Mayor [JoEllen] Reed actually before we kicked off the program in the summer last year, and was just telling her that I really wanted to partner with her and to see how we as the Achievers program could give back to the community,” said Vache King of the Clark County Equity Coalition, who helps operate the program. “The beautiful thing about that is that whenever they ride up and down Main Street they will be able to say that ‘I did that’ as a part of the community.” 

Through this year, Clark County Black and Hispanic Achievers have followed the organization’s purpose. 

“Being a part of the [Clark County] Equity Coalition, the overarching goal is to make sure that all students graduate with a meaningful diploma…We look for proactive measures to…spot out some things that are opportunities, and close some gaps whether they be educational gaps, or providing for students or even our administrative staff with resources,” King said. “The Black and Hispanic Achievers is a program that kind of supports that overarching initiative.” 

This happens in a number of ways, including a focus on college, career, and life readiness. 

For example, teachings on communication skills, networking, resume writing, and more have been emphasized. 

In addition, a partnership with the Winchester Police Department led to a tour of the facility for better understanding. 

“The whole purpose there was to remove the stigma of fear,” King added. 

In February, an event titled “That Could Be Me” in which students discussed with professionals of color about different career opportunities, took place at the George Rogers Clark High School Library. 

And, in an event titled “Day of Transition”, students that were in college or just out of college spoke with students on next steps as they progress through their academic journey. 

For Saturday’s event, not only were Vache and other members of Clark County Black and Hispanic Achievers program present, but so were Reed and City Commissioner Kitty Strode. 

“They were able to paint 8 of the 13 [concrete] boxes [in two hours]. Public Works [finished] the rest of those…They did a great job!” said Reed, who also took time out to speak with the students. “I think it was a great community service project for the young people. They felt ownership, and talked about how much pride they would feel.” 

“I think they’ve come together and they’ve been exposed to a lot of things that are going on in this community,” said Strode. “I just think I want them to learn about our community [and] become involved in our community at a young age if they choose to…I think it was a good experience for them and something they can do as a group.” 

Former Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner was also present, educating students about Clark County’s history and more. 

When it comes to being together and working as a group, the future continues to look bright. 

Approximately 20 students from Clark County Black and Hispanic Achievers will soon be headed to Washington, D.C., where they plan to stop by Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia, both Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), visit different cultural museums, the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and even Arlington National Cemetery to view the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

While this year’s program will close officially on May 13, it will not have been without reward. 

“These two communities are considered marginalized communities for various different reasons. It’s rewarding to see the opportunities that are presented to them and things they can take advantage of,” King said, adding that the group recites a mantra before each meeting. 

That mantra, consisting of different “I am” statements, mentions being bold, smart, courageous, confident, respectful, and more. 

“The fact that…the words have now seeped into their heart [and] they believe it is huge,” King added. “It speaks volumes.”