Last week, the B.E.S.T Academy Middle School launched its Partners in Education initiative with a literacy empowerment seminar at the school featuring model, singer and actor Tyrese Gibson. Gibson, best known for his roles in movies like Transformers and The Fast and The Furious sequels, is the author of the newly published book, How to Get Out of Your Own Way. He addressed a full house of students, staff, parents and school partners in a candid, straight-talk discussion about his life, his rise to fame, the students’ power to determine their own destinies and the importance of character.
Before Gibson was introduced, the B.E.S.T Academy chorus sang the singer’s hit, Sweet Lady. The performance drew the star from the wings onto the stage where he sang along with the chorus’s soloist, whose vocals almost matched the artist’s perfectly. The audience responded to the performance with a standing ovation, and soon all eyes were on Gibson, who sat alone on stage, and prepared to dish out real talk to the young men at B.E. S.T.
Gibson’s message covered subjects many adolescent males struggle with daily, like youth violence, accepting actions and consequences, peer pressure, HIV/AIDS and safe sex, and why it is necessary for students to surround themselves with high achievers if they want to become high achievers. “Will Smith once said to me, you can tell how far a person will go in life by looking at the five people he surrounds himself with,” Gibson told the crowd. “If you have a problem with your life, you should have a problem with the people in your life,” he added.
When the event ended, parents and students expressed their enthusiasm toward Gibson’s message. Eighth grader, Kamari Hughes said, “I really enjoyed listening to Tyrese. I liked how he wasn’t holding back—how we told the truth and told everybody that the truth will set you free.”
Trevor Mason and Jeffery Smith, also eighth graders at B.E.S.T, said they appreciated Gibson’s talk with the students. “I liked the way he could relate to most of the people in this room, because he came from a similar background,” said Mason. Both boys stated that they were inspired by Gibson’s quote from the Bible, “Faith without works is dead.”
“That was one of the best things I heard him say,” Gibson said. “Because you can believe and want something, but the only way it will happen is if you start doing something about it yourself,” he explained.
Tanya Culbreth, Parent and Community Liaison at B.E.S.T., believes that events like Wednesday’s are a critical part of student success. She stated, “It takes an entire village to move our kids forward, and it’s our responsibility to go outside these school walls to get those resources, and whatever else it takes. Strong families produce strong students.”
The school’s Partners in Education initiative allows businesses, individuals and community organizations to come together to support the B.E.S.T. students through service, planned events and mentoring. Orientation for individuals interested in working with the Partners in Education Initiative will occur on September 15, 2011. For more information contact the B.E.S.T Academy at 404-802-4944.