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Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders

Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders' Graduation Induction Annual Banquet
Contributions from RaShonda, Jeter's Leaders member since 2009
June 2010

On June 24, 2010, the Jeter's Leaders held their Annual Graduation Induction Banquet in the West Ballroom of Western Michigan University's Bernhard Center. The Annual Banquet is an opportunity to introduce and welcome the new class of incoming Leaders, while celebrating the graduating senior Leaders.

During dinner, conversations about the upcoming New Orleans service project filled the room. After dinner, the incoming class of 2014 Jeter's Leaders were introduced. As they made their way to the front, they received their very own Jeter's Leaders jersey. They also received a copy of Derek Jeter's autobiography, "The Life You Imagine."

Later in the night, awards were given out to current Leaders for their individual leadership and academic accomplishments throughout the 2009-10 program year. Following the awards, all of the graduating seniors were given a Derek Jeter autographed Leadership plaque from the Turn 2 Foundation, as well as a stipend for completion of the program to use toward future academic endeavors.

After all the awards and accolades were handed out, the Leaders enjoyed the rest of the night dancing and singing along to the band. The new inductees are excited to be starting their journey in the Jeter's Leaders program, and the graduates are looking forward to their upcoming college experiences. They promised to continue their relationship with the program by becoming active members of the Jeter's Leaders Alumni program.

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President Obama delivers commencement address to Kalamazoo graduates
June 2010

On Monday, June 7, 2010, President Obama delivered the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School's graduation. The event was held at the University Arena at Western Michigan University.

Kalamazoo Central entered the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge earlier this spring where they competed with over 1,000 other hopeful high schools. The competition was initiated by President Obama to highlight innovative high schools that demonstrate outstanding educational success, student engagement, and college and career readiness. After Kalamazoo Central was declared a top six finalist, over 170,000 voters put them into the top three where the president would make the final decision. On May 4, 2010, it was announced that the president had chosen Kalamazoo Central! As recognition for their hard work and important role in the Kalamazoo Public School system and the community, all members of the Jeter's Leaders program were invited to attend the special event.

Many people stood in line most of the day to be a part of history. Not a single seat remained empty for the occasion. The Kalamazoo Central graduating class entered the building with the traditional commencement march, Pomp and Circumstance, played by Kalamazoo Central's symphonic band. As the commencement started, thousands of graduating seniors, family, friends, teachers and faculty anxiously awaited the words of the president. The crowd was calmed by the first words spoken by Principal Von Washington, however; they erupted when the president was introduced and took his seat on the stage. The president joined the crowd in listening to the introductory speakers KPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice, as well as the valedictorian and salutatorian.

When it was the president's turn at the podium, the crowd erupted once again. However, once he spoke his first words, a hush overtook the arena. President Obama spoke directly to the graduates about important life lessons while still managing to inject an element of humor. The president's message to the graduates was to continue the success that they had achieved up until this time.

The remarkable Kalamazoo Promise award allows graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools a tuition-free education at the Michigan state school of their choice. The president quoted the Promise's motto, "Every child, every opportunity, every time." He reminded the students that an anonymous group of people chose to put their faith in them to be successful and that they should not forget to put their faith and success in society. "... understand that your success in life won't be determined just by what's given to you, or what happens to you, but by what you do with all that's given to you; what you do with all that happens to you; how hard you try; how far you push yourself; how high you're willing to reach. True excellence only comes with perseverance."

At the conclusion of his address, President Obama joined the Kalamazoo Central faculty as they called the students by name to receive their diploma. He shook each and every student's hand telling them that he was proud of them and their accomplishments.

President Obama's attendance is a testament of the hard work Kalamazoo Central and the greater Kalamazoo community is doing to advance their children. Each graduating senior and member of the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders will hold onto this day for many years to come.

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Jeter's Leaders support Girls on the Run Wondergirl 5K
Contributions from Madhavi, Jeter's Leaders member since 2009
May 2010

The Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run program hosted their annual Wondergirl 5K race on May 27, 2010. The Wondergirl 5K is the final event for the participants after 10 weeks of preparing their bodies, minds and spirits. Starting in downtown Kalamazoo girls run the 3.1 mile course that ends
at Western Michigan University's Waldo Stadium.

Girls on the Run is a character-development program that educates and prepares elementary and middle school girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. The Turn 2 Foundation and the Jeter's Leaders have supported the Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run program for many years through financial assistance and volunteer efforts. At the Wondergirl 5K, the Jeter's Leaders showed their support once again by cheering for the girls and serving refreshments throughout the race.

It was a perfect day for the event. The sun shined brightly and the weather was just right -- not too hot and not too cold. The Leaders made colorful signs and wore foam fingers on their hands. In high spirits, the group made their way to their designated spot on the corner of Burdick and Dutton Streets. As soon as they saw the first group of girls, they started hollering and cheering as loudly as they could. They blew their whistles and waved signs of encouragement. The roaring Jeter's Leaders did not fail to excite the participants. Even the Leaders who served drinks to rehydrate the girls showed their support by telling them all what an amazing job they were doing. The young girls smiled in appreciation and even made the effort to run a little faster as they passed them by.

After an hour and a half of supporting the girls, the final runner, tired but determined to finish her race, passed by the Jeter's Leaders' cheering section. As the Leaders were packing up their signs and whistles, they reminisced about the fulfilling experience. They were proud to have been able to motivate the younger girls at their biggest event of the year.

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Kalamazoo Signature Programs visit Lake Village Homestead
By Dominique, Jeter's Leaders member since 2008
June 2010

On Saturday, June 5, 2010, the Jeter's Leaders and Turn 2's four after-school programs in the Kalamazoo area -- Proud to Be Me-Washington, T.R.A.M.-Extra Innings at Derek's Dugout, Youth In Action and Proud to Be Me-Douglass -- visited the Lake Village Homestead Farm for an end-of-the-year celebration.

On a monthly basis, the Jeter's Leaders visit each of the after school programs to facilitate mentoring activities based on Derek Jeter's 10 Life Lessons. "Set Your Goals High", "Find Role Models" and "Be Serious, And Have Fun" are just a few of the lessons discussed. Although these topics are important to youth development, building a strong relationship between mentors and mentees is an essential component of mentoring. Like the Blanket Project earlier in the year, this trip gave the participants another opportunity to develop their relationships in a fun and exciting new environment.

The day was filled with food, fun and beautiful weather! The Leaders arrived first and started their visit with an educational hayride across the farm where they saw many of the farm's animals. After the ride, the Leaders made themselves comfortable in the garden, eating natural pork hot dogs and sipping on lemonade.

The after-school participants arrived and were also treated to a hayride around the farm. When their tour ended, the groups joined to take part in other farm activities planned for the day. They visited the chicken coop, jumped on a horse-and-buggy ride, played basketball, went horseback riding and ate more delicious, homegrown food!

Toward the end of the day, the Jeter's Leaders rounded up all of the younger children and organized a baseball game. It was the Jeter's Leaders against the after-school participants. After the first inning, it was clear who would be victorious. The younger, after-school students outperformed the Leaders so drastically that they quit keeping score!

In the end, all of the students left feeling happy and appreciative of their time spent together. The students are looking forward to the next time they can hang out and play another baseball game!

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Kalamazoo Signature Programs come together for the Blanket Project
March 2010

On March 18, 2010, Turn 2's Signature Programs in Kalamazoo, Mich., came together for a community-service project to make blankets for less fortunate children in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. Youth In Action, Proud to Be Me-Washington, T.R.A.M.-Extra Innings at Derek's Dugout, the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders and Proud to Be Me-Douglass, participated in the activity.

The Blanket Project was hosted at the Douglass Community Association, home to the PTBM-Douglass program. In addition to making blankets, the project gave children the opportunity to spend time with the other programs' participants. Each work station had at least one member from each program. After the younger students were grouped together, a mentee from the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders joined.

The groups were given two large pieces of fleece. The Jeter's Leader then cut six-inch slits along all four sides about two inches apart. The students spread themselves out around the table and together assembled the two pieces of fleece by tying knots so that the two large pieces were connected together. After two and a half hours they had made 30 blankets; quite an accomplishment in such a short time! To end the activity, the participants enjoyed pizza, soda and dessert for their hard work.

The blankets were brought back to the T.R.A.M.-Extra Innings at Derek's Dugout program and the T.R.A.M. students presented the blankets to a representative from the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of St. Joseph County and the Kalamazoo County Court Appointed Special Advocates, who would distribute the blankets to the children in need of such items.

The Blanket Project has inspired the Turn 2 Signature Programs to come together again in the next program year to do a similar activity. The project showed the children that they could make a difference in their community, one blanket at a time.

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Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders' Spring into College Tour: Atlanta
By Jeter's Leaders Joy (member since 2009), Myles ('09), Terryn ('08) and Maria ('06)
Spring 2010

One of the major components of the Jeter's Leaders program is college preparation. During their time in the program, Leaders research schools, begin the financial aid and scholarship process, and explore possible fields of study. Essential to this preparation are college visits. Each year, the Jeter's Leaders program visits schools that range from rural to urban settings, local to distant universities, and large to small campuses.

This past spring the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders visited Atlanta for their annual Spring into College Tour. They visited a number of schools including Georgia Tech University, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Emory University. The students learned a lot about the schools and the area and even encountered a few Jeter's Leaders alumni along the way.

The first three colleges the Jeter's Leaders visited were all in close proximity to each other -- Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University. The tour began by breaking up into groups according to gender. The male students visited Morehouse College (an all-male school) and the female students visited Spelman College (an all-female institution). At Spelman, the lady Leaders met with two recent New York Jeter's Leaders alumnae, Jaleesa Diaz and Iman Bastian, who served as the group's tour guides. Senior Leader, Maria, commented that, "Spelman was a beautiful college, enriched with empowerment for the souls of women." Maria hopes to go to Spelman after spending two years at Western Michigan University. Other Leaders commented on the school's inviting atmosphere.

Just across the way, the Jeter's Leaders boys were admiring Morehouse College. The male Leaders loved the atmosphere of respect that the Morehouse men demonstrated through their attire and language. The boys were intrigued with the campus environment, the tradition and history of the school, its diverse culture, and the pillars upon which the school's moral foundation is set.

After the groups finished their individual tours, the Leaders reconvened to travel a short distance to Clark Atlanta University. After lunch at CAU, the Leaders found themselves caught in the middle of a step show by several Morehouse and CAU fraternity brothers. The moves, language and tone of the brothers captivated the Leaders so much that they almost forgot that they still had more to see!

At Georgia Tech, the Leaders felt the serious atmosphere and got a sense for a school with a large campus. The large student body was very active and visible for the Leaders, which made the campus seem welcoming and gave the school a real community feel. The group even had the opportunity to go onto the football field, which they didn't hesitate to do, dashing out on to the field and make Heisman Trophy poses.

At Emory, the Leaders were given a special tour by Kathryn Downes, another New York Jeter's Leaders alumna. Kathryn is working toward a graduate degree in public health and showed the group much of the campus while featuring the O. Rollins School of Public Health. In one of the buildings, the Leaders entered a room with a mosaic piece depicting the evolution of medical technology. A professor saw the Leaders on the tour and stopped to talk in depth about the history of the mosaic. After the visit, the Leaders headed back to their hotel to prepare for one of the highlights of the trip, an Atlanta Hawks basketball game.

While on the tour, the Leaders were able to squeeze in some free time in the evenings. They found out that Atlanta has many attractions, but the one that seemed to be the most appealing was the NBA game. At the game, all of the Leaders enjoyed hanging out together. The crowd was fired up and the fans were cheering nonstop! The Leaders saw that Atlanta has a lot of pride in their teams and their city. Later in the trip, the Leaders visited the Lenox Square Mall, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Atlanta Underground Shopping Mall, as well as the World of Coca-Cola where they tried 84 different flavors of Coca-Cola and Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, which commemorates the 1996 Olympics Games.

On the way back to Kalamazoo, the Leaders reflected on their experiences in Atlanta. They were all appreciative of the opportunity to visit a new city and learn about the fine colleges and universities they may attend in the future.

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Kalamazoo Jeter’s Leaders depart on a local college tour
By Alex, Jeter’s Leaders member since 2009
January 2010

On Jan. 29-30, 2010, the Kalamazoo Jeter’s Leaders visited Michigan colleges Ferris State University and Central Michigan University.

The Leaders started their tour at Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich., where they heard details about Ferris’s academic courses, acceptance requirements and financial aid. The tour guides explained campus security and sports options while giving a tour of the dorms. The Leaders saw many important places on campus such as the library and the student athletic center. Afterward, they headed to Ferris’ recently renovated cafeteria and ate among current students.

After lunch, the Leaders left Ferris State and headed to Central Michigan University. Upon arriving in Mount Pleasant, Mich., the Leaders went bowling in CMU’s student recreation center. This was a fun time that highlighted one of the activities CMU has to offer outside of the classroom.

Continuing the tour the next morning, the Leaders ate a quick breakfast and were on their way to learn more about CMU. They walked the entire campus and saw all of the different dorms. A few of CMU’s unique buildings are its radio room and library. The library featured electronic-sliding shelves so students can get to different books faster and easier. The Leaders ate another meal in the university cafeteria enjoying the food and atmosphere. Following lunch, the group made their way to the bus to head back home to Kalamazoo.

The Leaders learned a lot about each school and the many aspects of college life. It was a fun trip and increased their anticipation of going to college while lessening some of the anxiety.

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Jeter's Leaders host Halloween haunting for Turn 2's after-school programs
By Antonyo, Dominique and Terryn, Jeter's Leaders members since 2008
October 2009

On Oct. 29, the Jeter's Leaders hosted their first Halloween Haunting at Homer Stryker Field, home of the Kalamazoo King's baseball team. The Leaders invited the members of the Turn 2 Kalamazoo after-school programs so they could celebrate the holiday together.

The Leaders had been planning the party since last summer and learned that it takes a lot of preparation to put together an event of such magnitude.

"The thing I liked best about the Halloween Haunting event was that we put it on all by ourselves. It was fun to make all of the plans and decisions and take on the responsibility," said Katie, a senior in the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders Program.

The group met many times to consider the guest list, activities, food, drinks, supplies and how to get everything done while ensuring the children were active and enjoy themselves. The many activities included a ring toss, tug-of-war, fish in a pond, face-painting, sack races, cakewalk, pin the nose on the witch and pumpkin bowling.

On the day of the party, the Leaders arrived and went straight to work setting up the games. To get in the Halloween mood, many of the Leaders wore their Halloween costumes. When the after-school children arrived, many of them were also dressed in costumes. They made their way from game to game, enjoying the action and having fun with the Leaders. Everyone loved getting candy prizes for playing the games. There was also a lot of food including hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks. To add a festive touch to the event, the Leaders invited a DJ to play music that everyone enjoyed.

After a few hours of mingling and playing, the children made their way back to their buses with candy in hand and smiles on their faces. The Leaders were very proud that their event turned out as well as it did and hope to host more events like this in the future.

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Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders 2009 program retreat
By Madhavi and Rashonda, Jeter's Leaders members since 2009
August 2009

On Aug. 28-29, 2009, the Jeter's Leaders held their annual retreat. This is the first full-group activity for the newly inducted Leaders. It gave time for everyone to start the year by getting to know each other better, learning about the program and having some fun together. The Leaders traveled to the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center for the two-day event.

When they arrived, they found out that the first thing on their itinerary was dinner. "Starting off the retreat with food was a great idea!" said J'Nairo. The Leaders were able to catch up and start to learn a little bit about each other over the meal.

Following dinner, the Sherman Lake Outdoor Center staff led the group in some team-building games. All of the Leaders had to say something about themselves that they thought the others would not know. Next, they formed teams and had to try to solve a problem together. This was a great way for the Leaders to learn how to work together.

Later that evening, the group enjoyed a campfire and S'mores before heading to their cabins to get some rest. "The most important part of the retreat was when we had the bonding time in our cabins -- I loved my cabin mates!" said Maria.

The next morning was spent in a planning session for the upcoming program year. "The most important part of the retreat was talking about the 2010 Jeter's Leaders Leadership Conference," said Robert. "I'm a sophomore now, and my mindset is more focused on that event." The Leaders were also able to make many choices about upcoming community service projects, mentoring, Conference workshops, and college tours.

"The most important part of the retreat for me was coming together as one and helping all the Leaders to step up their leadership skills," said Zach, a senior in the program. The Leaders all had a fantastic time getting to know each other during the retreat and were excited to start the year with such an upbeat gathering.

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Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $23 million to create and support signature programs that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and "Turn 2" healthy lifestyles. Learn more »

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The Project is an event created to share one of the Foundation's principles with communities. Learn more »

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