DOBBINS HEIGHTS — Students wanting help getting ready for test day have a place they can go.
Nikki Everette will be holding a workshop today to help pupils prepare for end-of-grade tests, the SAT and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, at the Dobbins Heights Community Center.
Everette is a Richmond County native who currently teaches in Moore County, according to Callie Ingram, director of the afterschool program at the center.
Ingram said she met Everette through a mutual friend, and when she found out about the test prep workshop, “I was all for it.”
“They can be an A-B student, but when they see things in test form, they freak,” Ingram said Wednesday afternoon. “So we’re just trying to get them prepared for that.”
She said they will also be discussing and providing “brain food,” including peanut butter, waffles, bananas and orange juice.
The free workshop is available to all students in grades 3-12, and 39 had registered as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Registration will continue Thursday from 2:30 until 4 p.m., when the workshop begins. There are a total of 175 slots available.
The only things kids will need to bring are pens, pencils, paper, highlighters and sticky notes, Ingram said.
“Every one of my kids in the afterschool program that’s 3rd grade and up is registered,” she said — a program that is continuing to grow since it began last September. “We’re moving right along in the Dobbins Heights community.”
In addition to helping students with homework, Ingram and her team of volunteers have been teaching the kids about drugs and stress.
Recently, the group made a stress chain out of strips of construction paper, with the kids writing down what stresses them out on the links.
One of the students wrote “community.” When Ingram asked why, the student replied because of people killing each other.
“It’s OK to go through things in life,” she said she tells the kids. “It’s just how we get through it.”
Ingram has also instituted a movie night at the community center.
“I make sure every child gets a free bag of popcorn,” she said.
This summer, Ingram is planning a summer camp, which will run Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. from June 13 to July 29. Cost for the camp is $100.
It will also serve as an open site for any child to get a meal, even if they’re not part of the camp, she said.
The camp will feature a variety of activities, including swimming, tennis, kickball, basketball, softball, Zumba and arts and crafts, as well as two field trips and working at the soup kitchen.
Ingram said she also plans to teach the campers about responsibility through gardening, “Let them value the integrity of doing something for themselves.”
Aside from using the town’s community center, the afterschool program is entirely funded through private donations from individuals and organizations including the NAACP, Dobbins Heights Concerned Citizens and Pastor Linda Ross.
“The community has pulled together for me to make it successful,” Ingram said, adding she was thankful to town leaders “for allowing me to come into their community and oversee these youth projects.”
She gets help running the program from the Beta Club and National Honor Society of Richmond Senior High School and other volunteers like retired teacher Arlene Cooper.
“I am so happy to have her on my team,” she said.
When she started the program, Ingram said she “stepped out on a vision and a prayer.”
“God has directed this whole vision for me — every time I turn around, he’s sending another blessing my way,” she said. “When you see that smile on that child and know you have made a difference, that feeling is amazing.”
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.