Stop the Epidemic Please (STEP)
Idea Leader: Jonathan Crump
Location: Jackson, MS
Partner Organization: Callaway High School
Project Summary: Modeling his work after an inspiring ninth grade teacher, Jonathan Crump, 18, knew that exposure to something that Mississippi youth don’t see every day is a great way to keep them interested in school. Students who came to school regularly, improved their academic performance, and maintained good behavior participated in eye-opening trips to rebuild homes in New Orleans, visit a civil rights museum, or attend an NBA game.
Service Learning Engages Students and Encourages Them to Stay in School
Jonathan and his peers, members of the Student Government Association, decided to enter the AT&T America’s Promise My Idea Grant competition after discussing the dropout crisis in Jackson. The project was titled S.T.E.P. (STOP THE EPIDEMIC PLEASE). Their idea was to give young people an opportunity to gain exposure by traveling the country. Jonathan and Callaway High School were awarded $10,000 to implement his idea.
Jackson Public School District’s graduation rate was 61.8 percent for the class of 2010. The dropout rate was 22.8 percent. After learning of the statistics, students were shocked. Jonathan stated that he was inspired by his ninth grade teacher, Will Smith. “I remember Mr. Smith saying that possibly one-third of our classmates will probably not be with us our senior year. He was right,” said Jonathan.
“Mr. Smith was the only person to take interest in trying to address the dropout rate, so he inspired me,” said Jonathan.
Jonathan was elected to serve as Study Body President for the 2010-2011 school year. One of his goals was to continue the legacy of keeping his peers in school and continue to get them exposed.
“Every year since entering high school, we have raised money to expose students to something that they do not see every day. We have traveled to Atlanta, Little Rock, Memphis, the Coast, and Washington, D.C. I have seen how these experiences have changed the live of many of my classmates,” said Jonathan.
Student Body Vice President Cameron Ratliff says, “Being exposed since entering high school has kept me on the right track to graduation.”
Cedric McField stated, “I never expected to graduate from high school. I am sure many others expected the same. Luckily, I was given an opportunity to be exposed to new things. I realized that education is the key to do some of the things we experienced.”
With the funds, Jonathan and the Student Government organized three trips for the year. In order to be given an opportunity to participate, students had to come to school regularly, improve or maintain their academic performance, and no discipline issues. In November, 50 students participated in a trip to Memphis, TN. They toured the Civil Rights Museum, explored Beale Street, and attended a NBA game.
In February, 50 students participated in an overnight trip to New Orleans. In N.O., students assisted Catholic Charities with rebuilding homes, toured the city, and attended a NBA game. In March, 21 students participated in a four-night trip to New York City. In NYC, students visited Times Square, Rockfella Tower, museums, and much more. Parent, Nicola Williamson, says, “I am proud of what the young people are doing to get the attention of district leaders and public officials. This is positive and I support them 100 percent.”
Jonathan is hoping to get additional funding to continue his idea of giving students an opportunity to gain exposure. “We are very grateful to America’s Promise Alliance and AT&T for believing in us and awarding our project $10,000,” said Jonathan.