Piney Grove Boys Academy Dedication Ceremony
Elected officials and community leaders attending the Dedication Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting included: Front row, l to r: Franklin Johnson, aide to Congressman Alcee Hastings; School Board Member Dr. Rosalyn Osgood; State Representative Hazelle Rogers; D’Wayne Spence, president, Board of Directors for the Academy; Dr. Derrick J. Hughes, Sr., pastor, First Baptist Church Piney Grove; State Senator Chris Smith; back row , l to r: Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bobby DuBose Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner; Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen and Dr. Edwina Coleman.
By Margarette Hayes
A future filled with promise was the word of the day on Oct. 22, 2013 as Piney Grove Boys Academy held its Dedication and Ribbon Cutting ceremony. The first school of its kind in Broward County, the Academy represents the opportunity to stem the decline in graduation rates of young males.
The vision of Senior Pastor Dr. Derrick J. Hughes, The Piney Grove Boys Academy opened its doors on Aug. 19, 2013. With an enrollment to date of 60 young boys, the mission of the Boys Academy is to provide a harmonious educational system that develops the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the student.
The Academy utilizes the ABEKA Curriculum with a focus on math, science, social studies, reading and language arts. Classrooms are equipped with at least two computers to provide the technology focus. Electives include but are not limited to public speaking, financial planning for youth and an ROTC Program.
The academy is a ministry of First Baptist Church Piney Grove, the oldest African American Church in Broward County. Alton Bolden serves in the capacity as principal.
According to Dr. Hughes, founder of the academy, “When I saw the statistics of the graduation rates among Black and Hispanic males in Broward County, I knew that we had to act. Positive role models, the opportunity to learn in an environment free of bullying, harassment, intimidation and a focus on success are the keys for these young men to become presidents of major corporations, doctors, lawyers, astronauts or anything that they can dream of becoming. Reinforcement of biblical principles and the need to give back to the community are pivotal skills that will move these young men to greatness. I have seen great improvement,” states Dr. Hughes, “in the use of vocabulary, an eagerness to learn and participate in school as well as in their behavior.”
Fran Bolden, educational advisor to the Academy, relayed a conversation she had with a parent of one of the young men. “He wakes me up in the morning now saying ‘mom it’s time for school,” the mother said. “With his previous lack luster desire for school, I am amazed at his turnaround.” “This is evidence,” says Mrs. Bolden, that we are making a difference.”
Ancel Pratt, III, project manager for Wades World Foundation (Dwayne Wade), was the keynote speaker for the dedication ceremony. Pratt spoke a-bout his growing up in the Lauderdale Lakes community and the challenges he faced and overcame after a football injury rendered him paralyzed. “They said I would never be able to move my shoulder again,” he said. But he overcame the injury, completed his degree at Florida Atlantic University and went on to become a successful manager. He challenged the young men to “not let anyone or anything define you or what you can accomplish.” He emphasized to them that hard work and commitment to your dreams are the keys to success.