The Chantilly Pyramid Student Achievement Committee celebrated its 25th anniversary Sunday in Fairfax, Va. Since its founding by late Chantilly High School (Chantilly, Va.) Parent-Teacher Association member Shirley O. Nelson in 1984, the Committee – an organization of parents working in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools and the community to help minority students improve their academic aspirations – has evolved from an ad hoc church committee to a 501 tax-exempt nonprofit with an all-volunteer 15-member executive board and approximately 100 members annually.
Under the leadership of Dr. Johnny Nelson, the Committee continues its mission to support, motivate and recognize minority student achievement and to help close the achievement gap of African-American and Hispanic students. To achieve its mission, the Committee begins each year with the Principals’ Reception, which allows the organization to strengthen its partnership with 34 local schools and express its expectations for minority student achievement. Throughout the year, the Committee collaborates with schools, churches, businesses and community organizations to offer numerous programs for all students. The programs include:
•S.T.E.P. – The Saturday Toward Excellence Program (S.T.E.P.) is a partnership between the Committee and Chantilly High School. It offers free tutoring for students in grades 3-12 in a variety of areas. STEP meets three Saturdays a month.
•BITS – The Bulldog Instructional Tutoring of Students (BITS) is a tutoring and mentoring program free to middle and high school students held three Saturdays a month at Westfield High School (Chantilly). Volunteers come from the community, businesses and educational professionals and student tutors come from the National Honor Society and the Interact Club.
•Summer Math Institute – The Institute, designed for students in middle and high school who want a head-start in pre-algebra, algebra and geometry, meets three evenings a week for three weeks at Chantilly High School.
•Reading Program – S.T.E.P. designed a two-part reading program in partnership with Chantilly Regional Public Library to help students improve their reading skills. The first part is the Reading Club which students in all grade levels are encouraged to read for fun and develop a wide knowledge base through reading. Students and their parents meet at the library for book talks. In the second part, called Read Out Loud, Tutors work with elementary students who need reading improvement. Students receive reading assignments to read out loud, answer questions from their readings and participate in reading discussions.
•Youth Enrichment Teach-In- An annual early evening to midnight session for middle and high school students (with parents and consultants) focusing on school survival skills, specific academic skills and leadership training.
•Annual Youth Motivation and Academic Awards Program – An annual event to recognize elementary, middle and high school students for academic excellence and achievements. Students are presented with trophies for having the highest grades in their classes, certificates for leadership, citizenship, creative skills, talents, most improved grades and for having made a commitment to excel.
•Shirley O. Nelson Memorial Scholarship Program- An award for minority students pursuing higher education which totals $5,000 annually.