Local students honored by sorority

Published 11:44 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Zeta Eta Omega Chapter, celebrated 11 area high school seniors at its 26th annual Gayla Okeke “Rites of Passage” program last month.

The gala took place at the Larry D. Striplin Jr. Performing Arts Center and is one of many youth activities sponsored by AKA.

The 11 students, members of the Culturama and African Knights mentoring programs, acknowledged their African roots and African-American history, through expressive song, dance, stepping, African-American poetry and a Kwanzaa, an African-American cultural holiday, ritual.

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Nancy G. Sewell, Culturama and African Knights general chairperson, said the event was very significant for the students.

“The students read poems by Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou and others,” Sewell said. “They also expressed their history through stepping, which was beautiful.”

Students also displayed personal scrapbooks chronicling their involvement in the Culturama and African Knights clubs throughout the years. Civic, school and church activities were also included in the books.

Kiremia Lee, Selma High School senior and culturama president 2010-2011, said Sunday’s event helped young students to confidently go out into the world.

“It allowed the public to see us (girls) in young womanhood and see the transition of becoming adults,” Lee said. “Plus, we are expressing our culture.”

This year’s Rites of Passage winners included Cortney Mahone, first place, Francis Marion High School; Kiremia Lee, Second place, Selma High School; and Neokee Clay, third place, Selma High School.

The program was named in honor of former Selma High School teacher and African Knights advisor the late Gayla Okeke.