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Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church launches Medical Academy Camp


Parents and students attend an open house for Cornerstone Medical Academy summer program at Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church on Thursday.


Karen Eckert

Saturday, June 15, 2019

School is out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean learning has to stop.

That’s one reason Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church is launching its first-ever Medical Academy Summer Camp for middle and high school students.

The camp will will focus on science, medicine and technology, as well as reading and writing, said Garrie Moore, executive director of the academy and a church member.

“We have recognized the importance of getting kids in the pipeline for medical and technical careers, having them get focused on the sciences and the whole STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concept,” said Moore, a retired educator and former dean of student affairs at East Carolina University.

The church will partner with the Brody School of Medicine, Vidant, ECU, Pitt Community College and others to ensure that a pathway is created for students to get their foot in the door and see what is going on there, Moore said.

“We’re just really excited about the partnerships and just being able to expose our kids to these wonderful career opportunities,” he said. “When we presented the proposal (of a medical academy) to all of these entities, they all embraced it.”

The church held a kickoff event on Thursday evening for the campers and their parents so they could meet the camp’s leaders, teachers and other supporters, as well as ask questions and receive a student handbook. They also had an opportunity to tour the church’s facilities, which include two computer labs.

Dr. Mark Stacy, the dean of the Brody School of Medicine said he attended the kickoff to talk to the students about being a physician.

“I think it is important for kids to be exposed to opportunities and be exposed to new ideas,” Stacy said.

They may not want to be a physician, but the camp will expose them to other fields, such as engineering and allied health, he said. Maybe someone wants to be a physical therapist.

“Any time you can move a kid from high school to an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree to an advanced degree, you’ve really done something to change their lives,” Stacy said.

“You can be whatever you want to be,” said Lawrence Rouse, president of Pitt Community College, told students at the event. He reminded them that PCC belongs to the community.

“Don’t take this (opportunity) lightly,” he said.

Rashad May Jr., 11, a rising seventh grader at A.B. Aycock, was at the kickoff with his parents and younger sister. He said his favorite subjects in school are art, music and science and he is excited about attending the camp.

Rashad’s parents, Novonia Brown and Rashad May Sr., said that Rashad already has had some experience with robotics at the after-school program he attends.

Rashad said he made a robot using cups, motors, markers and a glue gun. His was the only robot that was able to move in a perfect circle, he said.

Brown said that she is very excited that her son will be attending the medical academy. She was especially impressed that the camp had secured the support of local leaders such as Stacy and Rouse.

Organizers said that the camp will include field trips to the Brody School of Medicine, Vidant and PCC for exploration of health careers, physical fitness and health assessments, technology, cybersecurity and robotics. Field trips to Thermo Fisher Scientific, Grady White Boats, A Time for Science, Pine Knoll Shores and Sylvan Heights Bird Park also are planned.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Rashad’s dad said.

Teachers at the camp are licensed and certified in their areas of expertise, said Christina McCray, a science teacher at Farmville Central High School and the camp’s director. Those areas include science, technology and reading.

Jackie Simmons attended the kickoff with her son Harrison, who is 12 and a rising seventh grader at Hope Middle School. Simmons heard about the camp as a member of Cornerstone church.

She said the camp is important to her, so that Harrison will continue learning throughout the summer.

“The students have such a lag when they go back (to school) ... teachers spend the first six weeks just re-teaching (material from) last year,” Simmons said.

“I’m looking forward to Harrison staying up (to date) this year,” she said.

The camp, which will run for six weeks, starts on Monday. It will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day and the cost is $125 week. There are 20 students enrolled.

Some parents are paying out of pocket to send their child to the camp while some students have received scholarships. The camp still has openings but scholarships no longer are available, Moore said.

While the camp tuition provides partial financial support, the camp is funded mainly through the church’s operating budget as part of its ministry, Moore said.

The Cornerstone Medical Academy Summer Camp is targeting sixth- through 12th-graders. There also are a few fifth-graders enrolled, Moore said.

Moore said that the medical academy will not be just a one-time experience. The church plans to incorporate medical seminars into the church’s after-school program each week during the school year. The after-school program has students in grades K-12.

“It’s year-round. When we finish with the summer camp it rolls right into the after-school program,” Moore said.

For more information contact the church at 752-4156.

Karen Eckert can be reached at 252-329-9565 or at keckert@reflector.com.

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