FAIRFIELD — It was all about the “A” Monday morning at the Matt Garcia Learning Center.
Students packed into the cafeteria to hear from a panel of local businessmen and view the film “Bring Your ‘A’ Game.”
“School teaches you skills, education teaches you how to use those skills,” said Andre W. Davis Sr., who facilitated the event.
Davis is with the county’s Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission. He shared with the students his own journey of becoming a father when he was 15 and having a son who has been incarcerated. Now, at age 52, there are still challenges, Davis told the youths.
Guest speakers offered words of encouragement.
“I want you guys to make it,” said Stan Hardwick, a small business owner. His older brother, Al Hardwick, shared stories of growing up with a single mother and an older brother who went to prison.
“We got to learn from him,” Al Hardwick said. “He was our ‘Scared Straight,’ ” he said in reference to a program where at-risk youths are taken to prison and mentored by inmates.
Davis encouraged the students to look inside themselves and seek an honest answer as to why they were not at the high school they should be attending.
“What did you get caught up in to be here?” he asked rhetorically.
The 20-minute movie featured Spike Lee, Ice Cube and basketball player Amare Stoudemire espousing the values of staying in school, particularly for blacks. Half of all black students will drop out of high school before graduation, the film said.
“Change starts right here,” Davis said, putting his hand over his chest.
With the help of the students and some gift cards, the group discussed the secrets of success shared in the film. Among them was being dependable.
Vince Guisande, who owns his own glass company, shared how his son did not show up on time for a job that was paying $60 an hour. Guisande gave the work to another employee who was there on time.
Dressing for success was also discussed.
“This saggy pants thing: Why would you want to take something from prison and bring it out here?” asked singer Jonathan Pryor. “It’s fine to be the way you are. But I love you too much to let you stay that way.”
Senior Alfonso Jones Jr., dressed in a shirt and tie, said he got the message of “always do your best.”
Kassy Thorp, another senior, said she felt she learned any job worth doing it worth doing well.
“You may mistakes,” she said. “That doesn’t mean your’re done.”
“This is not condemnation we are giving you. It’s information,” Davis said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.