21 April 2015
The Youth Empowerment Alliance, formed in the fall of 2014 at Fluvanna High School, has a five-point purpose: to support young high school males, to build self-esteem, to improve academic achievement, to promote social and cultural awareness, and to develop servant leaders.
Assistant Principal Jason Lee describes himself as a “facilitator” and a “logistics manager.” He works alongside these young men, following their lead as he has from the start. Lee headed a similar program in Prince Edward Academy, and was thinking that the time was right to begin a program like it in Fluvanna, when he was approached by his son, who had been discussing the same thing with some of his friends.
“I was sitting there thinking that this would be good for our kids - a lot of them are capable of doing great things; they just need to see it with their own eyes to realize it. When the kids said they were envisioning the same thing, I knew it was meant to be,” said Lee.
Lee is bemused by testing standards released by the Virginia Department of Education.
The Virginia Department of Education has lower expectations for African American students than it does for white ones. The 2014-2015 Expected Average Measurable Objectives in English is for 76 percent of white students to pass the SOL, with only 64 percent of African American students passing. For mathematics, the numbers are white students at 71 percent, with African American students at 62 percent.
The young men of the Youth Empowerment Alliance, are determined to change that statistic, and change society’s expectation of what African American students can achieve.