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Queens community celebrates along with Sedgefield Elementary students at Panthers Challenge kickoff

09/20/11 -  

Carolina Panthers linebacker Omar Gaither led a crowd of more than 1,200 into wild cheers during a Sept. 20 celebration at Queens University of Charlotte.

Hundreds of Queens students, faculty and staff attended the kick-off celebration where Gaither announced a major community service challenge to Queens - to perform 75,000 hours of community service during the 2011-12 academic year.  If Queens reaches that goal, the Panthers will give a grant to Queens' service partner Sedgefield Elementary School, which Gaither proudly attended.

Gaither challenged the students from his alma mater to always do their best, and thanked Queens for its support of the elementary school. 

Pat Taft, director of the Center for Active Citizenship, says she's confident that Queens will exceed the 75,000-hour goal because of the tremendous support the new partnership with Sedgefield has already drawn. The elementary school is Queens' major service partner this year. All 450 students from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade attended the Sept. 20 kickoff event at Queens, dancing and waving rally towels as the challenge was announced. They also each took home a book donated by members of the Queens community along with an extra 150 that will stay at the school. 

Most of the students at the Sedgefield are underprivileged and the teaching staff has identified critical needs that Queens has pledged to support.  Queens and Sedgefield are working together on a Strategic Staffing Initiative (SSI) for schools with major challenges, as proposed by former CMS Superintendent Dr. Pete Gorman.

"With the Initiative and the Queens Partnership, student achievement at Sedgefield Elementary School is expected to rise tremendously," Taft said. "With everything that Queens has to offer, along with the resilience of the Sedgefield Elementary students, faculty and staff, this partnership will prove to be a success.

All Queens students, faculty and staff are eligible to help with the Sedgefield Volunteer Project.  While strengthening the Queens community as well as the local community, we volunteer to realize the importance and value of education for our own and future generations, Taft said. Service hours also will count toward the Panthers Challenge.


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