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Cammon welcomes mentors at HOSTS kick-off program

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 5, 1998

ST. ROSE – “If you see what is wrong and make it right, then you are apoint of light.”Those were the words from the song “Point of Life” sung by Therese Hotard in dedication to the mentors in the Albert Cammon Middle School’s HOSTS program at the school’s recent kick-off program.

“If you show the students a point of life, you allow them to shine,” Hotard said.

Cammon is beginning its second year with the HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed) program. This year, Cammon is adding the language artscomponent of the program to the math component already implemented.

Kim Bourgeois will instruct language arts and be assisted by Gwendolyn Matthews, while the math component will be instructed by Irene Stanfill with Rhonda LeBeauf assisting.

Kenneth Farizo, who mentored in the program at Cammon last year, gave an overview of the program. The HOSTS program was started in 1971 by BillGibbons, a teacher in Vancouver, Wash., to help students succeed onestudent a time. He felt the best way to do so was to bring in mentors fromthe community. Since then, the program has grown nationwide to includeover 500,000 students in 41 states and has received numerous national awards.

The HOSTS program was implemented in St. Charles Parish during the1996-97 school year at Eual J. Landry Middle School, and it spread to thedistrict’s four middle schools last year. The backbone of the program isthe mentors who teach the students a social curriculum as well as the academic curriculum. The mentors, who come from all walks of life, areasked to give 45 minutes a week to their students, and many form a special bond with those they are instructing.

Last year 32 businesses in the area provided over 380 mentors for the program, and those mentors provided over 5,000 mentoring sessions. Apretest and post test were given to the students in the program, and the students improved 21 percentage points over the course of the year. Of theseventh-grade students in the program, 83 percent passed the math portion of the state LEAP tests and 97 percent passed their math courses.

Martye Martin, a mentor last year, also discussed the social aspect of the program. She talked about the student she mentored, saying that he wasabsent a lot at the beginning of the year but once he was in the HOSTS program he really began to take an interest in his school work.

“The students are privileged to have you, but you are privileged, too,” Martin said.

Dr. Reginald Ross was the keynote speaker at the kick-off program. Rosstalked about the many mentors in his life – his mom, brother, step-father and his teachers. Ross discussed how the program went beyond academicsupport and said the support mentors give might influence the students to one day become doctors, lawyers, teachers and maybe even the superintendent of schools.

“You are helping them toward their long-term development,” Ross said.

“You are the true heroes in life.”Cammon principal Sylvia Zeno said there were 56 mentors in the school’s program last year, and it is those mentors who make the program work.

“We appreciate you giving your energy, your expertise, your knowledge and the gift of time,” Zeno told the mentors. “You will be making a differenceto our students here at Cammon, and we thank you.”Assistant principal Evelyn Smith echoed her principal’s words.

“You are the glue to the program,” Smith said. “If we didn’t have peoplelike you, it would be just another paper program. The greatest gift you cangive is time. We are so very happy to have you.”

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