By RICK NORTON
In tribute to the legacy of Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and at a time that America is observing Black History Month, the annual Dream Keeper Awards ceremony will be held Tuesday, …
In tribute to the legacy of Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and at a time that America is observing Black History Month, the annual Dream Keeper Awards ceremony will be held Tuesday, Feb. 27.
The annual recognition of area high school students who are excelling in the classroom will get underway at 6:30 p.m. in Conn Center on the Lee University campus.
This is the second year Lee has coordinated the ceremony, and is again partnering with the local chapter of the NAACP and the 100 Black Men of Bradley County to bring it to the community forefront.
Prior to Lee’s agreement to spearhead the celebration of local youth, it was co-sponsored by the NAACP, 100 BMBC and the Bradley County Ministerial Fellowship.
High school students to be honored during the evening are maintaining a semester GPA of 3.0 or higher. Not only are these students being invited, their family and friends are also welcome to attend, according to an announcement released by the Lee University Office of Public Relations.
The Dream Keeper Awards event is the first of two major gatherings scheduled in the Cleveland and Bradley County community intended to honor the legacy of the late Dr. King who — in the 1950s and 1960s — served as the face and voice of the Civil Rights movement.
The era included other leaders in the long campaign for racial equality, but King was considered the torchbearer because of his “change through peaceful protest” philosophy. Many of his emotional speeches challenged America to explore her moral conscience.
The community’s second major event — an annual observance more than two decades old — is the Annual Awards and Scholarship Banquet hosted by 100 Black Men of Bradley County. It will be held Saturday, March 10, in the DeVos Center on the Lee University campus. It will get underway at 6:30 p.m.
Of the coming Dream Keeper Awards ceremony, a Lee University administrator pointed to its importance to young people and its significance to this community’s investment in youth.
“It is a real honor for Lee University to be involved in planning this important community event,” said Dr. Carolyn Dirksen, director of faculty development at Lee who coordinates the Dream Keeper Awards ceremony. “We love having these talented young people on our campus and joining in the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.”
Attendees who fill the Conn Center auditorium won’t lack for inspiration. The faces of the young honorees are expected to swell parents and grandparents with plenty of pride, but the keynote speaker — based on his reputation for inspiring crowds — will likely steal the moment, as well.
Bishop Dr. Guilford R. Hill, general overseer of The Church of God Sanctified Inc., will deliver the main address. Joining him on stage will be the Lee University Evangelistic Singers. Directed by Gloria Scott Richmond, the popular Lee group will provide the evening’s entertainment.
Hill is no stranger to education or young people. Prior to retirement, he enjoyed a 33-year career with Cleveland City Schools: 18 years came as a classroom instructor, three years as an assistant principal at Cleveland High School, and 12 years as principal of Blythe-Bower Elementary School.
After his city schools career, Hill moved on to Lee University where he served — from 2009 to 2017 — as one of the field experience supervisors of student teachers.
For more than 36 years, Hill has served as senior pastor of The Church of God Sanctified Inc. in Cleveland. He serves on the Board of Bishops and as the director of the Christian Education Department that oversees the licensure of ministers.
Hill received a Doctorate of Ministry in biblical counseling from Covington Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry in Bible from Covington Theological Seminary. He earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Trevecca-Nazarene University and his bachelor’s degree from Duke University.
Dirksen said the event will be emotionally stirring for participants and attendees, thanks to the young people and to Hill’s planned address.
“This will be an inspirational evening with a focus on honoring the academic achievements of the high school students,” Dirksen stressed.
She pointed out students should arrive at Conn Center by 5:30 p.m. in order to prepare for the ceremony’s 6:30 p.m. start.
For additional information, contact Dirksen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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