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  • Every day, 83 students drop out of school in North Carolina.
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21-Year Old Senior Keeps Eyes on The Prize

Charles B. Aycock High is the winner of the 2014 TAPS Mock Trial Competition at the Wayne County Courthouse.  Also participating included Spring Creek High, Wayne School of Engineering, and Wayne Early Middle College High School.

Charles B. Aycock High is the winner of the 2014 TAPS Mock Trial Competition at the Wayne County Courthouse. CBA was also the 2013 champion. Also participating included Spring Creek High, Wayne School of Engineering, and Wayne Early Middle College High School. The annual event is sponsored by the Wayne Bar Association, Communities in Schools, and Wayne County Public Schools.

James Hamm has steadfastly refused to let obstacles get between him and his high school graduation.  The 21 year old senior is preparing to graduate this year from Southern Wayne High School.  Where most students would have given-up and dropped-out, James has kept his eyes on the prize and never blinked.

“I know that I’m the oldest senior in my graduating class,” said Hamm.  “That doesn’t bother me and it has not been a problem for my classmates.  To them, I’m just another Senior.”  Under North Carolina law, 21 is the maximum age for a high school senior so James knows that his time has come.  “I’m not focused on the pressure.  I’m going to walk across that stage”, he said.

James has struggled throughout his school career with a learning disability.  “There are many reasons why a student may require more time in school, but those reasons are not important,” said Success Coach Gene Jackson.  “For James, his focus is on graduating, and not on why he’s a 21 year old senior.”

Born in Peoria, Illinois, James attended school there until he was 17.  “It was difficult for me.  I didn’t have a lot of friends and I was constantly teased”, he said.  From Illinois, the family moved to South Carolina for three years and then to the Grantham area and Southern Wayne High School.  “I never considered dropping out of school,” said Hamm.  “I have dreams and goals.  Dropping out will not help me make those dreams come true”.  “James does not want to be a victim of his past,” said Sharon Patterson, Success Coach.

“He sees graduation as a new beginning and a fresh start”.  He thinks that he may be the first high school graduate in his extended family.  “I know that my entire family will be proud of me and I am so happy to have their support,” he said.

Success Coaches Mary Kay James (Mount Olive Middle) and Veda McNair (Spring Creek) at the CIS Winter Institute with Danya Perry from CIS of North Carolina.

Success Coaches Mary Kay James (Mount Olive Middle) and Veda McNair (Spring Creek) at the CIS Winter Institute with Danya Perry from CIS of North Carolina.

Mother Suzanne Hamm has always stood by her son.  “Mom has been my rock.  Through the highs and lows, she has never given up on me.  She wants the best for me”, said Hamm.  James is excited about graduation and cannot help but think about his future.  “I’d like to get some skill training and then find a job,” he said.  Success Coaches Gene Jackson and Sharon Patterson have suggested that James consider the Job Corps after graduation.  The Job Corps can provide the training he needs and the financial assistance he requires to move forward after high school.

James stops by the Success Coach office nearly every day.  “I know that the Success Coaches  and everyone at Southern Wayne High School has  got my back,” he said.  James Hamm is graduation enabled, not learning disabled.

THANK YOU GIFT:  Donate $10 or more to CIS of Wayne County and receive a  pack of KidKard greeting cards designed by Wayne County students.  Click on the Donate tab to make your secure donation using either debit or credit cards.  You’ll receive your thank you gift in the mail!

CIS of Wayne recently received a $2,500 donation from the Wells Fargo Educational Foundation for the Success Coach Program. Pictured above are Sandy Fisher (Wells Fargo) and Allen Clayton (Wells Fargo Vice-President)
presenting the check to Selena Bennett (Executive Director), Beverly Wallace-Wiggins (Board Treasurer), and Bill Keel (Board Chair

About Communities In SchoolsCIS is  the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization.  Our mission is to surround students with a community of support,empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.  By bringing caring adults into the schools to address children’s unmet needs, CIS provides the link between educators and the community. The result: teachers are free to teach, and students – many in jeopardy of dropping out – have the opportunity to focus on learning. 

For over 30 years, Communities In Schools has worked to ensure that every child needs and deserves these “Five Basics”:

  • A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult
  • A safe place to learn and grow
  • A healthy start and a healthy future
  • A marketable skill to use upon graduation
  • A chance to give back to peers and community
CIS works tirelessly to prevent an at-risk child from becoming another dropout statistic.  We bring community based resources into our schools to work with students and their families.  CIS works because we are founded on the concept that students can and will achieve.  Resources are coordinated to meet the academic and social needs of the students that we work with.  We coordinate the delivery of these resources at the school site through our Success CoachesCIS of Wayne County Results for 2012-2013

  • 100% of potential dropouts stayed in school.
  • 100% of seniors graduated.
  • 100% of CIS students met their suspension goals.
  • 92% of CIS students met their behavior goals.
  • 88% of CIS students were promoted.
  • 80% of CIS students were promoted.
  • CIS of Wayne Quick Facts