Dr. Paul J. Adams III, president and founder of our partner school, Providence St. Mel School in Chicago, spoke to us in September 2012. Below are exerpts from his remarks.
Some twenty years ago, Mike Jay invited me to speak the Midwest camping organization about Providence St. Mel and the possible opportunities for some our middle schools students to experience camping. I remember driving to a restaurant to speak and wondered as I drove…my children do not have the resources to pay the fees to attend school and there is no way they can afford a camp. Now some 20 years later, with your financial investments, more than 300 of our children from the west side of Chicago, a poverty stricken, drug- and gang-infested community, have had the experience of a lifetime. You have been saving lives…not metaphorically, not spiritually, not a wish, but literally life saving, the ability to breathe, the ability to live, the chance to see the stars, the opportunity to see a bald eagle.
As I stand here this afternoon, one child in my community is dead and before you and your family lay your heads down for a peaceful sleep and a beautiful tomorrow, other children will die. An average of 4 to 6 young people on the south and west side of Chicago will die this weekend. More than 20 will be shot and mutilated for life. So I thank you on behalf of many parents and children that may not know how to say thank you. I thank you on behalf of the fortunate children to be chosen to attend camp in the future.
I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about Providence St. Mel. In my nearly 42 years of experience, I have had but one goal…to help educate as many inner-city children as I can, to educate them with values as well the educational skills to compete at our top intuitions of higher learning. 100% of our graduates are accepted to four-year colleges and universities. 50% are accepted to tier one institutions. 72% of our graduates will complete their undergraduate work in four years as compared to 52% for the typical US high school. What is the key to a successful school? Great teachers. Great teachers who have 100% support from their administrators. To be sure, if you put a dummy in our classrooms, you will have the making of a room full of dummies.
Each day at Providence St. Mel, we recite our mission statement…
At Providence St. Mel, we believe.
We believe in the creation of inspired lives
Produced by the miracle of hard work.
We are not frightened by the challenges of reality,
But believe that we can change our conception of this world
And our place within it.
So we work, plan, build and dream in that order.
We believe that one must earn the right to dream.
Our talent, discipline and integrity
Will be our contribution to a new world.
Because we believe we can take this place, this time and this people and make a better place, a better time and a better people.
With God’s help, we will either find a way, or make one.