A year ago, a colorful banner saying “Have a successful school year!” appeared at Boykin Park, donated by the Boykin Park Neighborhood Group (BPNG) in August 2013. At that time, the BPNG had planned a special back-to-school program for children in the neighborhood, but weather conditions forced the group to cancel the program.
Soon after, BPNG Chairperson Ethel Mae Tillman-Anderson, and BPNG Special Event Coordinator Clifton Harryton Anderson, decided to donate the banner to the Kershaw County School District (KCSD). The goal: have the banner placed in front of KCSD headquarters on DeKalb Street in Camden at the beginning of each school year.
This year is the first year the banner stood outside KCSD offices.
To have a successful school year, Anderson is recommending some “school tools” to students for the mind and body to be placed in their “memory bank” and used when needed. They are:
• High self-esteem. “Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. Having high self-esteem means you like yourself and feel confident in your ability to meet life’s challenges,” Anderson said. “Low self-esteem means you do not feel good about yourself and you are most likely to be influenced by negative peer pressure, not positive peer pressure.”
• Knowing how to recognize and express anger appropriately. Anderson said knowing this can make a “big difference” in students’ lives. “Anger is the most poorly used natural emotion in our society today. Handling anger well can help you explore feelings and work through problems. Handling anger poorly can hurt you, damage relationships and present legal problems,” he said. Anderson said anger is a powerful emotion that everyone feels from time to time, but the way you handle it really matters.
• Watch out for peer pressure. “It is when your peers -- persons your own age -- try to influence how you act and think,” Anderson explained. “It comes in two forms: positive (to achieve goals, good grades or just doing a good job) and negative (to use alcohol or other drugs, shoplift, pick on other students or to skip school).”
• Attitude. “(Attitude) will surely get you in trouble, if not handled properly. Keep a positive attitude at all times. It will get your further in life,” Anderson said.
• Stay in school. “It is real ‘cool’ to go to school. Knowledge is power,” Anderson said. “Begin the school year with good impressions because impressions last a long time and they are remembered, especially by your teachers. Believe in yourself and the value of an education.” He suggested students set short- and long-term goals for themselves, and stay focused. “The harder you study, the easier your school work will become,” he said.
• Trust and respect. Anderson said these are “life-long tools” that “learn and earn.” He said that when students choose certain behaviors, they are also choosing the resulting consequences, positive or negative. “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” Anderson explained. “Your reputation is made by others; your character is made by you. You live what you learn, so learn all the good and healthy stuff. Give all you can to the present. The future will take care of itself. Remember, <ITALIC> you </ITALIC> are in charge of your life!”
• Learn conflict resolution. Anderson said this means learning to work out conflicts or disagreements without fighting, name calling or hurting others’ feelings. “Learning how to handle conflicts in a positive way can help you stay safe from violence, (help you) feel good about yourself and learn to respect others. With conflict resolution, everyone wins,” he said.
Anderson said there are three steps to good, healthy decision-making for students: a) think about your options (choices), b) consider the consequences and c) make the best choice.
“Just remember, you are responsible for your decisions and actions,” Anderson said. “Good and bad things don’t just happen; you make them happen.”
He also said another set of “school tools” include participating in a sport, joining the school band or signing up for science, music or other clubs. These are better than joining a gang, Anderson said, because the school-related organizations have rules you must follow.
“They offer you structure, and that is very important. Check out community-based activities and after-school enrichment programs,” Anderson said.
In addition, he suggested that during students’ private time, they should go to their spiritual strengths of prayer or mediation to a higher power for guidance and support.
“Prayer may be one the oldest form of spiritual practice and the most popular one in America,” Anderson said. “Offering a brief prayer, during your private time, after using the ‘school tools’ (can) help you with having a successful school year.”
(Provided by the Boykin Park Neighborhood Group.)