LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Sorority sisters. Pearls. And, backpacks. Graves Elementary was honored by one thousand members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) from across Cluster V of the Sorority’s South Atlantic Region when they converged on the Infinite Energy Arena (formerly the Gwinnett Center) in Duluth to share in “The Power of The Pearl Connection” October 2 – 3.
In keeping with the sorority’s programmatic thrust, “Launching New Dimensions of Service”, the sorority sisters collected and donated 500 backpacks filled with school supplies to Graves Elementary. Graves Elementary is the newest elementary school in Gwinnett County. It is named in honor of Avery Anderson Graves, a veteran educator, who lived on Graves Road and was a distinguished teacher and coach for over four decades (from the 1920s – 1960s).
Home to the mighty and proud Mustangs, the school is housed in the Meadowcreek Cluster and is a Title I school where 95% of its 1300 student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. “Creating Opportunities, Discovering Dreams and Challenging Realities” is the motto and that belief that “Your Future is Limitless… If You Believe” is the motto and mantra posted throughout the school. Clayborn Knight serves as principal.
In addition to bestowing a service award, sorority members participated in enriching workshops, listened to Alpha Kappa Alpha reports, fellowship, and shared in the significant strides made by Cluster V AKA chapters relative to the implementation of the Sorority’s international programmatic thrust at the local level. Networking opportunities and a special Friday night HBCU-themed reception, “Friday Night Live”, were also a part of this two-day event.
Cluster V prides itself on its record of service and strides to improve the quality of life and living for all by implementing programs of Alpha Kappa Alpha at the local level. The sorority sisters are particularly proud of their beloved Sorority’s One Million Backpack Initiative and greeted representatives of Graves Elementary over the weekend.
Under the leadership of South Atlantic Regional Director Sharon Brown Harriott and Cluster V Coordinator Shevawn Broxton Young, this year’s Cluster V Conference planning was led by Gwinnett County’s first sorority for college-educated African American women, Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter (UAO), and its undergraduate affiliate, Tau Pi Chapter of Oglethorpe University. Nicola McIntyre, Geri Gonzalez, and Mary Matthews served as UAO Cluster V Chairmen. Karan Rhodes is president of UAO while Andria S. Daniels serves as Vice President of the chapter.
UAO President Karan Rhodes said, “We are so ecstatic that a record number of Cluster V members of Alpha Kappa Alpha are coming to Gwinnett County to strategize how they can continue to raise the bar to more significantly aid the underserved populations in their respective communities. One thousand minds working together for such a great cause is certainly historic for Gwinnett County!”
The sisters of UAO are overwhelmed by the support they have received from the business community. The following companies have signed on as sponsors of this service-oriented occasion: Infinity of Gwinnett, Omega Learning Academy, LifeFocus, State of Georgia NAACP, The Corner Bakery, Macy’s Gwinnett Place Mall, Choice Communications, Nationwide Insurance/Michael B. James Agency, Woodward Property Group, East Cast Wings Bar & Grill, Jimmy Johns and Taste of Paradise Caribbean Restaurant.
Nicola McIntyre, Cluster V Conference Chairman said, “We are so very proud to honor Graves Elementary at our Cluster V Conference. Knowledge is power. We want to ensure students have the supplies they need to succeed.”
McIntyre added, “My sisters and I are also humbled by the support of the business community. We are so thankful for their generosity and support.”
Georgia is one of three states, including Florida and South Carolina that make up the South Atlantic Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The region is comprised of 165 graduate and undergraduate chapters and 10,000 members. Cluster V is the largest of several clusters of the South Atlantic Region. It is comprised of the metro-Atlanta graduate and undergraduate chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Pictured: Center Right: SA Regional Director Sharon Brown Harriott and Center Left: Cluster V Coordinator Shevawn Broxton Young along with the SA Region International Program Committee Representative Thuane B. Fielding (to right of Regional Director); Upsilon Alpha Omega and Tau Pi Chapter leadership;and Upsilon Alpha Omega Cluster V Conference leadership donate 500 backpacks to Graves Elementary, Representatives of the school including Graves Elementary Principal Clayborn Knight at CENTER, were on hand.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is the oldest Greek-letter organization established in America by black women and was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, the organization connects thousands of college-trained women who give of themselves to support community service projects and scholarship programs. With a membership, internationally, of over 265,000 women, the sorority has more than 986 chapters in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea and Africa.