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East Point Academy recognizes Black History Month in Friday ceremony

Event features speech from Dr. Montrio Belton, dances, poetry

West Columbia, SC (James Bowers) - The elementary school campus of Cayce-West Columbia area charter school East Point Academy held a ceremony on Friday afternoon to celebrate Black History Month. The event was a celebration of black culture featuring an African dance troupe directed by Cynthia Price. Also featured were poetry readings by East Point Academy students who read works by famous African-American authors such as Nikki Giovanni and Langston Hughes. The school’s chorus performed two songs for those in attendance.

The keynote speaker for the Friday afternoon function was Dr. Montrio Belton, an attorney who previously worked in the field of education after a lengthy military career. Belton told the students how he was born to a fifteen year old mother in the small town of Abbeville, SC, and how she worked against all odds to finish her education and ensure her children had the opportunity to be successful. After a military career, Belton used his GI Bill among other benefits to go to college. During that time, he admits to taking out student loans to finance what he called a “bling-bling” lifestyle. He encouraged the young audience members to learn from this mistake and avoid taking on such debt.

The key themes of Belton’s speech were appreciation for the support of family. Belton spoke fondly of his grandmother who took an active role in helping ensure he and his siblings were looked after when his mother was working and attending school. Belton also encouraged the young students to work hard in pursuit of their dreams. He didn’t decide to become an attorney until age 37. When he told his friends what he wanted to do, he was met with more than a few raised eyebrows. However, Belton did not listen to the skepticism, and at 45 is now a practicing attorney in the Charleston area. He is a prime example of a successful member of the African-American community that can be a strong influence on today’s youth.

East Point Academy was founded for the purpose of giving students the foundations needed to succeed in an international playing field. The school is becoming recognized for its status as a Mandarin Immersion School,featuring a program designed to teach the world’s most commonly spoken language to elementary school students. East Point student body and staff are very diverse, and EPA promotes the understanding and celebration of the various cultures present at the school. “Our theme here is merging cultures,” said Toneka Green, curriculum coordinator at East Point Academy. “Celebrating every culture is very important, because we want students to feel at home here. Black History Month was not the only celebration of a resident ethnic group undertaken by EPA; the school just finished a celebration of Chinese New Year.

East Point Academy also works to give back to the community. The school is in the process of planning a “Jump for Heart” event to raise funds for the American Heart Association in its fight against heart disease. For more information on East Point Academy and its services, visit eastpointsc.org or call (803) 926-5220.

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