Special to The Times-Journal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On Wednesday, March 30, the Transcendent Leadership Institute and Community Development Cooperation (TLICDC) and the Tabernacle Baptist Church presented the Selma Early College High School (SECHS) initiative with two $1,000 checks.

On that same day, students enrolled in the program prepared to depart from Selma High School and travel to Pittsburgh, Pa. to attend the 20th Annual Minorities in Agriculture, natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Career Fair and Training Center.

The contributions were the first made in response to a challenge in the community issued by the Rev. Kobi Little, president of TLICDC.

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“This (Early College High School) initiative will give our youth and our community a significant advantage by preparing its graduates to excel at academics and leaders at an accelerated pace,” said Little.

During the MANRRS conference, SECHS will have the opportunity to network, attend workshops, share ideas, compete for summer internships, visit the Carnegie Science Museum, and attend a career fair.

During this career fair, the students will explore various employment opportunities with many world-renowned private agriculture, ag-engineering, and agribusiness industry leaders, colleges and universities, and federal governmental agencies.

The students will complete their five day excursion with a stopover in Washington, DC. Once there, they will tour the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Monument, the Vietnam Veteran’s War Memorial, and other historic sites. Retired Colonel Jim Page of the Army Historical Society and Judson “Jeb” Bennett, Director of the National Museum of the US Army will host the tours. Both organizations are SECME and Early College High School partners and supporters.

“We are proud to have such generous and dedicated citizens support our efforts to further the academic and professional lives of our children,” said Irene Smith, SECHS Director. “I am prayerful that others will join the Transcendent Leadership Institute and Tabernacle Baptist in their endorsements of this powerful, life-changing program.”

“The Transcendent Leadership Institute challenges the community – individuals, faith groups, and businesses to invest in Selma and our young people by contributing to the Selma Early College High School Program,” said Little. “We salute Reverend Morton and the Tabernacle for answering the call to support our next generation of leaders. We hope that others in the community will follow Tabernacle’s example and meet this challenge.”

“The Family of Tabernacle Baptist Church is proud to meet this challenge and we wish the students and the faculty of the Selma Early College High School Godspeed,” said Reverend Rodney Morton, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church. “We thank Reverend Little for his vision and we encourage others to step forward in support of this dynamic education effort.”

Tabernacle Baptist Church was the first church to open its doors to mass meetings during the voting rights movement and continues that legacy of leadership through numerous ministries including their literacy campaign and the Nehemiah Project.

The TLICDC is committed to leadership development and community transformation and implements its mission through training programs, coalition building, and housing development.

The SECHS, a new and innovative program with an agri-science, agri-business, and agri-engineering focus, was designed to help disadvantaged youth earn a high school diploma and college degree at the same time. The program was funded in part by a grant from SECME, Inc.

Under this initiative, students who complete coursework that is more rigorous than a traditional high school diploma, will have the opportunity to receive an Associates degree, or the equivalent credits may be transferred in support of admission as a junior to a four year institution in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree.

MANRRS’ goal is to provide its student members, junior high school through doctoral programs, with the support to become productive citizens. It hopes to accomplish this by engaging them in leadership development activities, educational opportunities, job readiness training and facilitating internship placement and permanent employment, with special emphasis on agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.

The trip was made possible by contributions from SECHS and SECME partners and community members including: Tuskegee University, Wallace Community College Selma, Selma City Schools, SECME, John Deere Corporation, Pioneer Hi-bred, USDA/ARS, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Performance Technologies Group, Dr. Wm. “Jay” Jackman (National Association of Agriculture Educators), and Reverend Kobi Little.