Singer and actor Tyrese Gibson asked the students of Ferebee-Hope Community School Complex to stand in their red uniform shirts and receive accolades from their teachers and parents on June 16 when he visited the school’s 21st Century Community Learning Center Afterschool Program’s commencement ceremony.
Dressed in a soft gray suit, Gibson set aside time from filming Transformers 3 to talk to students at one of the nation’s largest dropout prevention programs about the importance of education and its positive impact on his life.
The program is a product of Communities in School, an initiative that is active in over 3,200 K-12 public schools, catering to over 1.2 million youth in 250 different communities. Ballou Senior High School-Twilight Academy, Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy – Parkside Campus and Ferebee-Hope Community School Complex are three public schools in the District that are involved in the program. CIS offers an array of enrichment activities and homework help programs that coincide with the student’s normal academic program. Along with Gibson, CIS has brought a variety of other celebrities to District students including first lady Michelle Obama, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Gibson who grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif., understands the obstacles facing students to remain in school. Gibson admitted that it was hard for him to stay in school, but he did. He is currently in the process of starting a boys and girls youth program called 2000 Watts to encourage students to stay in school.
“Don’t allow drugs or alcohol or anything to make you feel like you can’t make it,” said Gibson as he stepped out into the audience. “I want to encourage you all to start going to the afterschool program…. You dropping out of school is not an option.”
Gibson later awarded one male student at the school with a $1,300 scholarship to participate in a design program this summer.
Even the parents in the audience received strong messages from the former model. Gibson, who has a 3-year-old daughter, advised parents to watch the images they portray to their children. He explained that children pick up all images even at a young age.
“Your personal life is your personal life,” said Gibson, “You might not have the nicest house or drive the nicest cars, but you do have a child.”
The commencement ceremony ended with a play by the students of Ferebee-Hope School Complex.