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Bussey is Boys & Girls Club Midlands Youth of the Year

Posted: February 22, 2018 4:21 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Jaelen Bussey (center), a senior at Camden High School (CHS), shows off his 2018 Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands Youth of the Year award in the school’s commons. Celebrating with him are (from left) KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan; friends Mikah Davis and Jaffari Pearson; JTC Executive Director Brian Mayes; the Boys and Girls Club’s Ken Gaines; JRT Director Roberta Langley-Mayes; CHS Principal Dan Matthews; and the JTC’s John Drakeford.


Jaelen Bussey, a senior at Camden High School (CHS), is the 2018 Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands Youth of the Year. According to Jackson Teen Center (JTC) Executive Director Brian Mayes, Bussey earned the award at least in part for his work on a special video interview series called “I Am the Evidence,” part of a larger series called “Make It A Conversation.”

Jaelen, who is a musician and athlete, wanted to do something after former U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina U.S. senator, said of after-school programs last year, “Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that (helping students). There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, helping kids do better at school.”

Mulvaney’s statement, and some by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos -- which came as President Donald Trump proposed a $1.2 billion cut to after-school programs in the budget he sent to Congress in March 2017 -- rankled Jaelen.

“I wanted to inform everyone -- I wanted to revoke what they said. After-school programs do work. It might be where some kids get their only meal of the day,” Jaelen said on Feb. 15.

That day, around 11 a.m., Mayes’ wife, Roberta, helped Jaelen set up a table in the CHS commons area where he thought he’d be helping her out in some way. Instead, he was surprised to see Mayes lead a group of JTC staff, Boys & Girls of the Midlands representatives, Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan and CHS Principal Dan Matthews toward the table.

They were there to present Jaelen with his award.

“This means a lot,” Jaelen said, adding that it had been a “humbling” process working toward earning the award.

In part one of “I Am the Evidence,” which can be found on YouTube, Jaelen explains that he’s gone to the JTC since 2014, participating in activities, but has participated in after-school programs since the 1st Grade.

“Thanks to these programs, I plan to attend the University of South Carolina in the fall of 2018,” Jaelen says in the video.

Things worked out a little differently: Jaelen will actually be attending South Carolina State University this fall, but on a full four-year scholarship.

In the nearly 4-minute video, Jaelen interviewed Morgan and Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands CEO Carter Clark. He’s also spoken with Matthews and Camden Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford, among others on his journey, and spoken at a statewide Job Readiness Training event.

Jaelen actually learned he had earned the title of Midlands Youth of the Year early in the month. According to Mayes, he will receive a $2,500 scholarship. Jaelen, he noted in a Facebook post, has a 3.8 GPA, achieved a 27 on his ACT, and is dual-enrolled at Central Carolina Technical College during his senior year.

According to the Boys & Girls Club’s national Youth of the Year website, State Youth of the Year winners each receive $5,000 in college scholarships; regional Youth of the Year finalists, $10,000 in college scholarships renewable for four years, up to $40,000; and the National Youth of the Year receives an additional $25,000 scholarship, renewable each year up to $100,000.



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