Local NAACP honors Hopewell chapter

by Christina Ritchie Rogers

Hopewell Junior Tyrone Curry (back, center) holds the NAACP club’s award, joined by other members (from left): club president Carolyn Williamson, Tyler Barringer, Lynn Bryant, club secretary Tierra Washington, Brittany Robinson, and group leader Tracy Gray (front, center).

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognized Hopewell High School NAACP members last week for their hard work and continued service to the community.

So far this school year, the Hopewell group participated in a campus-wide cleanup, organized a toiletries drive to benefit elderly people in need and traveled to a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols. The group is planning a fundraiser to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

Group member Tyrone Curry, a junior at Hopewell, said the campus cleanup event earlier this school year had a strong impact on him.

“It’s nice to give back to a school that’s giving you a free education,” he said.

Senior Tyler Barringer has helped with the toiletries drive for years, and it’s one of her favorite service activities, she said.

“I’m fortunate because I have that stuff, so to be able to give it to people who need it is really important to me,” she said.

Group leader Tracy Gray, a teacher assistant in Hopewell’s Exceptional Child department, took charge of the school’s NAACP group in 2008, and hopes to instill a sense of responsibility and – most importantly – accountability in the students. “I expect a lot from my students,” Gray said. “Even if they’re not held accountable in other places, they know they’re accountable to Ms. Gray.”

Hopewell junior Tavius Gibson said he used to get in trouble often at school, but since joining the NAACP group, he has changed his behavior for the better.

“I used to get written up a lot,” he said, “but now I realize that interactions with teachers and students can be more positive.”

While there are no grade point average or other minimum academic requirements to participate in NAACP, Gray does require each member to sign a behavior contract, stating that they understand that in order to participate in the group’s activities, they must fulfill their obligations in school.

Though she has two children of her own, Gray said she treats all the members of the Hopewell NAACP group as her children, teaching them important life skills that extend beyond the school walls.

“I’ve learned a lot about organization and time management,” senior Brittany Robinson said. “And about being on time.”

“When you’re a leader, everyone is looking up to you,” Barringer said, “so you have to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do and that you follow up.”

Barringer and her fellow group members are preparing for a Saturday, Jan. 29, fundraiser to benefit Habitat for Humanity. The event will be held at Hopewell High School, 11530 Beatties Ford Road, Huntersville, at 6:30 p.m. and will include poetry, songs and dances in honor of Black History Month, which begins Tuesday, Feb. 1. Admission is $7.

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