LAURINBURG — Members with the Laurinburg Rotary Club were privy to a dream come true Tuesday during their weekly meeting.
Coach James McLean with Carver Middle School introduced five students who are part of the school’s Blue Blazers, a program for sixth- through eighth-graders who are the focus of positive, self-esteem projects in and out of school.
“We emphasize respect, responsibility, positive attitudes and more,” McLean said. “We want these kids to be on time, no matter what; we want them to look their best no matter what; and we want them to act their best no0 matter what.”
He added that the group will put in at least 1,500 community service hours each year doing projects in and around the school — things like volunteering at day cars, nursing homes and adopting roadways for clean-up.
“Our goal is to teach these kids how to be great,” McLean said.
Recently, the Blue Blazers received a huge shot in the arm when First Bank’s “Dream It, Do It” project selected the group as one of its winners, which brought with it a $10,000 prize.
“We are just so thankful for First Bank and what this money will mean to the Blue Blazers,” McLean said. “It will help us further our cause and increase what we can do with multiple opportunities.”
The Blue Blazers was started in 2013 with just five students. Today, McLean said the group averages about 35 students.
“We most pleased with how the program has progressed and really helped these kids,” he said. “Those original five students are still in school and doing well.”
McLean explained the Blue Blazers isn’t easy for the students.
“We push and push and work them hard,” he said. “Some things we do most kids wouldn’t want to do …
“But we become an extension of their family and they become an extension of ours,” McLean added. “Once we establish the expectations, (the students) then know what they have to shoot for.”
He said the support from the community “as a whole has been outstanding over the years,” and added that all of the blue blazers worn by the students have been donated from various sources.
Part of the money from First Bank’s “Dream It, Do It” contest — which initially attracted more than 3,300 applications in the Carolinas — will be put toward offering youth summer camps for football, wrestling, volleyball, girls and boys basketball.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]