Developing the minds of youth prove a vital component to any community. Sociological factors largely dictate the trajectory of one’s life. Thus, broadening the horizons of at-risk youth constitutes a necessity. The Carousel Center remains a staple in the Cape Fear area’s ongoing attempts to successfully nurture the generation of tomorrow. The non-profit organization strives to be an outlet for neglected and abused children and serves as a community partner with Frankie Pollock Jr. to create a day that exposes youth in the community to futures they may not otherwise know are possible. Entitled the Historically Black College or University Experience (HBCU), to be held this Sunday, January 19th, the event will boast a series of events that celebrate higher education in time for MLK Day.
A Wilmington native, Frankie Pollock Jr. graduated from New Hanover County High School in 1996. After going to college in Virginia and living in Charlotte, NC, for a bit, he moved back to Wilmington last summer to accept a position as assistant principal at the DC Virgo Preparatory Academy—a school of which he is an alumnus. Pollock attributes his sense of discipline and his subsequent success to Wilmington.
“As a youth in the area, [I] was always involved in positive activities such as the Community Boys Club, marching band, or church functions,” Pollock states. “These activities shaped [my] life and allowed for [me] to be exposed to the world outside of the Wilmington community. Due to limited financial resources and innovative activities, children are now left to survive in their communities with more negative influences than ever before.”
Spurred by the increase in criminal activity, gang violence, teen pregnancy and dropouts in Wilmington, Pollock wanted to create an event that directed local youth in a positive direction. He felt the city lacked an outlet for kids to get involved and break away from any bleak outlook for of their future. To shift this disparaging trend, he coordinated an event in conjunction with FPJ Consulting (an organization started by Pollock which aims to give back to the community), The Carousel Center, the MLK Celebration Committee, Urban Promotions and Coast 97.3. The event will inform on how Wilmington youth can bring collegiate dreams to fruition. The HBCU experience will host admissions counselors from five different historically black colleges or universities, including Elizabeth City State University and St. Augustine University. Through pamphlets and consultations, they will provide information on admissions qualifications and scholarships.
“The HBCU Experience will give students an opportunity to be exposed to the excitement of college life and what positive opportunities are ahead of them if they work hard and remain focused in school,” Pollock divulges.
Though the event will primarily aim to be informative, Pollock also hopes to cultivate a festive atmosphere. Falling the day before Martin Luther King Day, the event will celebrate the historical figure’s lasting legacy. Reminders of King’s speeches and fights for freedom will be a part of the activities.
Taking a cue from King’s impact as the “drum major for justice,” Pollock plans to incorporate a battle of the bands. Pollock has served as the band director at schools in Norfolk, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and was appointed the assistant band director of Johnson C. Smith University. With music holding such a special place in his heart, Pollock feels as though featuring the Superior Sound marching band of St. Augustine University and the Sound of Class marching band of Elizabeth City State University will be the perfect way to get kids enthused about college.
Going head-to-head, they will play popular and original songs. Their performances will include the flag team, the dance squad, and the bands’ drum lines. The battle of the bands will conclude the day’s events.
Though the sonic finale will certainly be a highlight, live performances by fraternities and sororities also will serve as testimony for the college experience. Cheerleaders from the represented institutions will be present to perform routines and songs, and add a pep-rally vibe to help mount excitement for the battle of the bands.
Adding to the enriching afternoon will be guest speakers, including Mildred Bethea, a cancer survivor, who will inform on the importance of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. A table will be set up for people to sign up to donate bone barrow. This portion of the event will educate attendees on the significance of giving back.
As well, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo will open the festivities.
“The impact of this will go far beyond the events, as [we] have an opportunity to change the lives of the students and families that will attend,” Pollock enthuses.
Promoted through radio, television, newspaper, flyers, and social media, Pollock hopes to see an inaugural turn-out of around 900 people. Numerous churches, schools and community organizations already have committed to bringing youths to participate.
Building off the momentum of an impressive kick-off, Pollock would like to see this manifest into a movement. “This is the beginning of a long-standing, lasting legacy of positive events,” he muses. “The future plans will include a scholarship fund dedicated to students who plan to attend a Historically Black College or a university of their choice.”
To help broaden support, the HBCU Experience needs the backing of the community in order to be successful. Pollock emphasizes a need for ushers, ticket collectors and people who help set up and break-down the various sectors of the event. Those interested can contact The Carousel Center’s Fatima Mann at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for the event are $5 in advance and $7 on Sunday. The event will be held at the Williston Middle School Gymnasium. Doors will open at 3 p.m. and the event will kick off at 4 p.m..
“The solution to beginning a turnaround in our community is instilling hope and giving vision back [into] the children of the Wilmington area,” Pollock reminds.DETAILS
The Historically Black College or University Experience
Williston Middle School
401 S 10th St.
Sun., Jan. 19th
Tickets: $5 adv., $7 the day of
Doors: 3 p.m. Show: 4 p.m.