Eastern Wake News

KHS club for African-American male students will foster leadership skills

Knightdale High’s male students will have the opportunity this year to reach out to the community while strengthening their own skills in a new club focused on African-American males.

The club, started by 11th grade teacher James Hankins, will be called the Pharoah Society, taking cues from the fraternity that helped with its original formation a few years ago.

“A lot of numbers, whether it comes to suspension rates, students dropping out … African-American males, not just in our school, but also in the county, is higher than any other group,” Hankins said.

At Knightdale, black students took the most end-of-course tests (which can include Advanced Placement tests in high school), North Carolina school report cards show.

The passing rate among the 537 end-of-course tests taken by back students was 19.2 percent, one-tenth of a percentage point higher than the passing rate among the 241 tests Hispanic students took.

White students took 240 end-of-course tests and had a 48.8 percent passing rate.

“(The club will) put some positive role models and energy into the school,” Hankins said.

The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity helped establish a similar club at the school about three years that eventually fell by the wayside, Hankins said. The fraternity uses Egyptian imagery, including a pharoah, as an identifying symbol.

The club also gets support from Phi Lambda, the graduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.

He said the group will give students who aren’t straight A students or star athletes a chance to be leaders in the school community. In addition to learning life skills – which is why the club is considered service learning – the group of boys will be on hand at school and community events to help when needed.

“It’s not just meetings where they plan, it’s more so trying to get them prepared to be better young black men in Knightdale, Wake County and North Carolina,” Hankins said.

The club will require interested students to apply, but Hankins said it’s just to make sure the members will put forth effort to fulfill the responsibilities.

“(We want students) respected by peers, peer leaders (and who) involved in other things, not just athletics or academics,” he said.