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AMP brings athletes, students together

  • Thursday, October 24, 2013

Staff Photo by Scott Rodgers Alexis Bales, 11, Kelsey Williams, 17, and Ashlyn Patterson, 10, smile for a photo at a bench at Hammond Hill Elementary. The state champion swimmer works as a tutor for Bales and Patterson through the Athlete Mentoring Program.

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This year a new partnership was formed between North Augusta High and Hammond Hill Elementary schools.


The Athlete Mentoring Program, or AMP, includes 14 athletes and 14 students. The athletes work directly with the students toward the goal of getting a 100 percent on the Masters of Multiplication test that will be given the week after spring break.


Other goals include helping the students increase their MAP Reading RIT score by three points from the fall to spring, and their MAP Math RIT score by five points in the same time frame. The students also learn about sportsmanship, teamwork, life skills, how to organize their time, good study habits and how to be independent thinkers.


Dan Pippin, North Augusta High School's athletic director and head football coach, said the program was born out of simply wanting to help fill a need.


“My wife was their school psychologist last year, and we were out walking the dogs one night,” he said. “She was telling me about some things that Ms. (Janet) Vaughan had going on, and some of the issues they were having. I said that it was something we could help out with. I contacted Ms. Vaughan and she took the ball from there and exceeded what I had hoped for.”


For her part Vaughan, the principal at Hammond Hill, echoed what Pippin said.


“The AMP program is a huge benefit to our school and the students who are being served by the athletes,” she said. “These athletes have devoted their time and attention to some of our fifth-grade students who need just a little more one-on-one attention with multiplication facts, vocabulary and comprehension skills. The AMP program has exceeded my expectations.”


The athletes are at Hammond Hill from 8 to 8:45 a.m. each day. The also rotate a Monday, Wednesday, Friday; and Tuesday, Thursday schedule.


The athletes include football players Brandon Thomas, Jake Whitley, Colton Johnson, Maurice Williams, Keyon West, DJ Young, Kyle Saverance, Anderson Cotton, Ronald Williams, Jordan Blocker and Omari Baskett. Mallory Stone, a basketball player, and Kelsey Williams, a swimmer, also take part.


Starting last week Dr. Lollie Becton took the reins of the program. Cathy Martin, a guidance counselor at Hammond Hill, had previously been the primary coordinator.


“The children that the athletes are working with have a sense of pride,” Becton said. “Here is someone who is coming in from the high school and seeing them on a regular basis. It is so key for them to have someone come in and work with them, and it's something that will go on all year.”


The students were identified by teachers and counselors. All of them are fifth-graders.


“I've had a lot of help with my spelling and my handwriting,” said Kortez Jones, 10.


Ashlyn Patterson, 10, said that Williams had helped her a lot with her journals. Williams said that the students she worked with were “fun to be around.”


“They always seem like they're smiling,” she said. “Even when I have to help them they listen to what I have to say. They're good kids.”


McCloud said that the experience was “fun” because the kids look up to him and his classmates.


“We know someone is always watching, so you always want to set a good example,” he said.


Pippin stated that the program was one of the things he was most proud of, in addition to the tutoring program at the high school.


“I don't bring very much to the table, Ms. Vaughan is amazing,” he said. “I don't think the kids get enough credit for the things they do when they're not swimming or playing basketball. I think it's something cool they're doing. It's a great thing. I think it's just a phenomenal program.”


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