Mount Airy City Schools is holding its annual Freedom School, a five-week program.
Freedom schools originally started as an alternative free school for blacks in the South. The schools were originally a part of a nationwide effort during Civil Rights Movements to encourage blacks to achieve political, social and economic equality.
This program then transformed into a premier multicultural program for at-risk children in communities, encouraging leadership and opportunity.
Freedom school is designed to help transform a student’s way of thinking and to encourage critical thinking, inspiring and motivating children through relationships, role models and community service.
The children go on two enrichment activities a week — these include eating at restaurants, skating, going to a movie or swimming at a local pool.
“The community really embraces the children, they are treated like royalty everywhere they go” said Lee Hunter, curriculum coach at Jones Intermediate School.
A day at Freedom School begins every morning with a pep rally — the students can be heard as the school bus turns into the property.
Activities for the Mount Airy Freedom School program include guest readers, enrichment, social action, scholars and building character, coordinators explained.
Guest Readers — “Each morning a guest reader comes and reads to our scholars. This has gone very well this year,” said Jesse Hiatt, Freedom School coordinator. “We have partnered with the hospital (second year) and a local book club, each sending a reader one day each week. They are bringing a variety of people from varied backgrounds, exposing the scholars to some interesting people.”
Enrichment — One of the new things they have done this summer has been to make arrangements for the scholars to tour a few local businesses. The Mount Airy News, Northern Hospital of Surry County and Miss Angel’s Pies have worked with the school. “They have been excellent hosts, and our scholars have enjoyed learning new things about their community,” said Hiatt.
Social Action — Each summer there is a social issue that the schools try to address. This year the focus is on no child hungry. The school is in hopes to find a food bank that will let the school come for a visit and see how they operate.
Scholars — The first two years the school was looking for children to add to roles; this year the program had a waiting list. “This speaks to the quality of the program, and the excitement that it generates. The scholars speak of it all school year long, they can hardly wait; many more want to be a part of what we are doing,” said Hiatt.
Building Character — According to Hiatt, the guest readers are always impressed with what Freedom School is doing.
“They see our scholars and the energy they bring to the program. Building character, encouraging achievement, believing in the power of yourself is what Freedom School is all about.”
“The volunteers who help think they are helping the children, end up being the most impacted by the end of the program,” said Hunter.
Reach Eva Queen at 336-415-4739.