CHAMPS has kicked off its 23rd summer program at PC. The program’s enrichment weeks include learning and activities for more than 100 Laurens County students.
From June 18-22, 51 students from 9th-10th grade will participate in CHAMPS summer programming on campus. The following week (June 25-29), 67 students from 7th-8th grade will be on campus for the summer program.
Stephanie Barksdale ‘13, who works as mentor coordinator with the program, knows firsthand what the students can get out of the CHAMPS experience.
The Laurens County 3rd grade teacher began her time in the program in 2003 as a 7th grader. She later received the CHAMPS scholarship and became a PC student. She joins several mentors in the program who give back.
“It’s helped me become a more well-rounded individual and not a person who would just stay inside of my own shell or comfort zone,” Barksdale said. “It’s just one of those programs that helps grow the individual from within, so you can let the world see what kind of person you are, build those morals and get the right kind of foundation.”
PC student mentors have been gearing up for the CHAMPS students’ arrival with training.
Mentor Katelyn Norris noted she was already looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.
“You build a bond,” fellow mentor Brittany Dunn added. “It’s a bond that you have specifically with the kids that no matter what, no one can break it apart.”
During summer programming, students will learn life skills, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), public speaking and creative writing.
They will also take a challenge course to hone their teamwork skills, as well as connect with PC student mentors in boys and girls group sessions. Other parts of summer programming include scripture and praise and worship.
Classes will be held over four days. One day during each of the weeks, participants will visit Greenville.
The groups will use themes from this summer’s required reading, “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park as they navigate Falls Park and the Greenville Zoo.
CHAMPS (Communities Helping, Assisting and Motivating Promising Students) was formed and is facilitated by Presbyterian College, Laurens County teachers and community partners.
Summer programming is just one part of the program. Students are assisted throughout the year to help them stay on track and maintain personal and academic goals.
Susanne McCarley, administrative assistant in Religious Life and Service, points out parents, students, mentors, teachers and other partners in CHAMPS are all working together for students’ success.
PC student mentors like Breana Brown, Darius Harvey and Tyler Duvall say the same. Both Harvey and Duvall came out of the program, as well.
Brown also added CHAMPS has helped her stay encouraged as a PC student.
“It builds you up as a person, because you hear so many stories where kids are going through so much and they still smile and are beautiful inside and out and so that really just made me positive,” she said. “It just changed my whole outlook on life.”
Since 2001, when the first group enrolled in college, CHAMPS has been channeling more than 90 percent of its graduates to colleges and universities.