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At-risk children heading to Wake Forest University for football game, college tour

Five charter busses full of students and their parents will roll out of A.L. Brown High School to Wake Forest University for the home football game of the season this morning, but it’s about much more than a football game to organizer Dr. Donald Gray.

“We want to introduce them to a big world,” he said, adding that the students will also be going on a tour of the college while they’re there.

“These kids have never been exposed to a college campus,” he said.

Community Relations Director for Kannapolis City Schools Ellen Boyd said Gray’s plan reinforces the college experience.

“He’s helping them see that college is possible,” she said.

Gray has been involved with Kannapolis City Schools for a number of years, and has served as Parent-Teacher Association president of several Kannapolis schools.

“He’s been very active over those years being the bridge between the schools and the community,” she said.

Gray raised the money for the Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech game trip as an avenue to reach out to at-risk children and their families.

“This trip won’t cost them a dime,” he said.

Attendees are primarily elementary school students, with a few middle schoolers as well.

Gray said it’s important to reach students while they’re still young.

“Middle school is about too late,” he added.

“He’s taking parents as well, so he’s really reached out not just to the students, but the parents,” Boyd said, adding that Kannapolis City Schools system focuses on family and community involvement.

“He’s trying to make that connection with families,” she said. “Anything that can help bring more families into the process is greatly appreciated.”

Gray’s plan doesn’t end with today’s football game, however.

“This is not a one-shot deal,” he said.

He’s actively looking for churches to adopt Kannapolis elementary schools – to feed, tutor and play games with the students, as well as mentor parents and teach parenting skills.

Gray said end-of-grade test scores are low, and he wants to find a way to help raise them.

“We want to assist the school system in doing that,” he said.

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