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Noteworthy Endeavors

March 31, 2007

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    March 31, 2007
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    Opera Carolina News

Noteworthy Endeavors

First Baptist Church-West has always been known as the "Education Church" because of its activities and membership. For 14 years, it offered after-school tutoring; later, it started a summer program. By 2003, the programs had grown so much that they were combined and developed under a nonprofit organization, the First Baptist Church-West Community Services Association.

Patsy Pressley Burkins, executive director of the Community Services Association, strongly believes research that shows that music enhances academic abilities and that it develops and increases self-esteem.

"First Baptist-West has always operated on the belief that West Charlotte children deserve high-quality programs of excellence regardless of their ability to pay. Research also shows that youth engaged in music-based programs have the ability to supplement their incomes."

Today, The Clara H. Jones Summer Institute, an intensive six-week program that combines academics and music, serves as a template for the after-school program. The Summer Institute serves 145 first through 12th graders, who take chorus, with a choice of violin, piano or art instruction. Students' educational experiences are enriched through partnerships with Opera Carolina and the N.C. School of Science and Math. Field trips take place on Fridays and are mostly educational. They include visits to venues like Discovery Place and the Carolina Raptor Center.

Clara Jones, the namesake of the summer institute, is an icon in west Charlotte and was the guiding force of the summer and after-school programs.

Of the program, Regina Smith from the Arts and Science Council, said, "This program employs talented local artists, and provides high-quality after school and summer cultural programs to children in our community."

PRIDE Magazine, Noteworthy Endeavors
by LaTonya Mason