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Teens on path to admission

Published 10:54pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lamarr Coles III is determined that his charges at the Boys and Girls Club Suffolk Unit will move on to bigger and better things after they graduate from high school.

After a moment of inspiration, Coles took it upon himself this year to develop the Pathway to Admissions program for teens in the club. The goal is to inspire the young people to work toward admission at a college, trade school or the military after they earn their high school diplomas.

Coles, with the help of his sister Christine, also a Boys and Girls Club employee, took 13 students to the University of Virginia and seven students to Duke University last week. Visits are planned for Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University, the University of North Carolina, Howard University, Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University by the end of the summer.

“All these trips are free,” Coles said. “The only thing they have to do is bring money to eat.”

The students are required to dress up for the tours to be in the correct mindset, Coles said. The teens are encouraged to ask questions about college life that go beyond the surface-level topics.

Rising junior Gerald Stokes, who went on both college trips last week, said he enjoyed both trips.

“U.Va. was much more than I expected,” he said. “I liked the fact it has such a historical feel to it.”

However, he said, the University of North Carolina is his “all-time favorite college.”

During sessions at the club’s home base of John F. Kennedy Middle School, Coles teaches the kids about college life, how to obtain financial aid and how to fill out college applications.

Stokes said the program has inspired him to go to college, where he would like to study music.

“This program is something I haven’t experienced at any other Boys and Girls Club,” he said, noting he recently moved into Suffolk. “We didn’t do anything like this.”

Coles said he realizes college is not for everyone and encourages the kids to consider trade school or the military.

“As long as you’re not doing nothing after you walk across the stage,” he said.

For more information on the Boys and Girls Club, visit www.bgcseva.org.

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