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Learning takes center stage at First Baptist summer camp program
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Griselda Gomez, center, and Mariana Elizarraraz, right, look at Stephan Mbota, left, while he demonstrates building using household items during the Promising Futures camp in Gainesville on Friday. The program exposes students of various backgrounds to activities that can be applied later in school and in life. Students can sign up to learn about art, drama, robotics or journalism. - photo by David Barnes

Theodora Afantchao of Togo, West Africa, has a $10,000 scholarship waiting for her when she graduates from Gainesville High School in a few years.

The ninth-grader spoke of how she went about getting the scholarship in front of more than 40 students from pre-K to high school, who gathered Friday for the finale of the weeklong Promising Futures summer camp at First Baptist Church Family Life Center.

Speaking so everyone could hear in the large activity room where students shared with others what they learned during the week, Afantchao said her good grades helped get her the scholarship. She said she learned at the camp of other opportunities and programs that can help her and others compete for scholarships.

Gainesville High School drama students Abbi Mowbray and Jameson Murray, along with GHS chorus student Cayla Adams, choreographed a lively, foot-stomping tune. They performed the song along with some of the younger children they rehearsed with during camp.

Brothers Jakim and Noah Johnson, GHS grads now continuing higher education at different schools in California, returned home on vacation in time to help out introducing robotics at the camp. Their sister, 17-year-old Kore Johnson, and Artemio Baten, GHS seniors, joined GHS teacher Dave Head in helping camp participants complete robot kits.

Robert Aragon, 9, used a remote control to operate the robot he put together with help from volunteer advisers. Aragon directed the robot to a plastic bottle, had it clasp the bottle with mechanical arms and released it into a box.

Students also got to hear from young artist Michael Arteaga, a Lakeview Academy graduate, who painted a banner of little shepherds standing by the “good shepherd” of the Bible.

“We started the program eight years ago,” said Janice Hale. “We thought it was going to be a tutoring program for young children. We found they loved art and music so we just started expanding what we do.”

Ruth Demby, Associate Pastor of Missions at First Baptist said the program was born from trying to expand opportunities for children who for the most part come from non-English speaking households. She said the children did not want to stop attending, which is why Promising Futures now spans pre-K to high school.

Demby pointed at 15-year-old Yanet Alberto as an example. The teen attends Gainesville High.

“I’ve seen Yanet since she was in the second grade,” Demby said.

Hale said the program came about in part because there are many teachers at the church.

“The church gives back to the community,” said Hale, who will join Demby and others on a mission trip to Uganda next week.

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