Project Excel Orientation: Being Transformed to Embrace Your Future

Students and parents enjoy dinner before the program begins. Thank you to Food Plaza for their catering services!
Students and parents enjoy dinner before the program begins. Thank you to Food Plaza for their catering services!
Rasahn Thompson, a 9th grade Walt Whitman student, shares what this year’s theme of “being transformed to embrace your future” means to him.
Rasahn Thompson, a 9th grade Walt Whitman student, shares what this year’s theme of “being transformed to embrace your future” means to him.
Coordinator of Student Services David Perkins emphasizes that every student has a purpose and the opportunities to take ownership.
Coordinator of Student Services David Perkins emphasizes that every student has a purpose and the opportunities to take ownership.
School Board Trustee Sidney Joyner shares some words as he greets those attending the opening orientation for this year’s program.
School Board Trustee Sidney Joyner shares some words as he greets those attending the opening orientation for this year’s program.
Assistant Superintendent for Student Services April Poprilo welcomes parents and students attending the orientation.
Assistant Superintendent for Student Services April Poprilo welcomes parents and students attending the orientation.
Keynote speaker Kelvin Joseph shares his story of how one individual helped him to redirect his life to achieve more positive outcomes.
Keynote speaker Kelvin Joseph shares his story of how one individual helped him to redirect his life to achieve more positive outcomes.

This past October, Walt Whitman hosted the opening Project Excel Orientation for the year. The program’s theme this year is “Being transformed to embrace your future.” Coordinator of Student Services David Perkins tells us that the basis of this theme is to help students understand that they have a purpose and to take ownership of their lives and their actions.

“Each child has a purpose and the opportunity to fulfill it, and while some students find it easier to connect the dots, other students require extra guidance in realizing their potential,” said Mr. Perkins. "It becomes the responsibility of parents, educators and anyone who works to create a positive impact to help “paint a picture” for those students to better visualize their purpose."  

Keynote speaker Kelvin Joseph, CMO & COO of Steiner Sports Marketing, Inc., provided a real-life example of someone who was initially heading in a direction that was not warranting positive results. All it took was one person to redirect Kelvin, and the same holds true for others in need of guidance, as all it takes is one person to strike the chord to change someone’s ways.   

Rasahn Thompson, a 9th-grade student from Walt Whitman High School also shared his story of struggle before realizing he has a purpose. David Perkins noted that Rasahn “took ownership and realized quickly what needed to be done in order to redirect him onto a path towards his purpose.”

During his speech, Rasahn shared what this year’s theme means to him. “In order to have the future that you want, you have to do the best that you can at everything that you do. You have to transform yourself into the best person you could possibly be.” While some students come to this realization more easily than others, there are kids who learn this too late. It is up to teachers, staff and all those who seek to help students progress that need to step up by providing opportunities for students to discover their purpose.  

A special thanks to Project Excel Coordinators Ian Denson of Birchwood Intermediate School, Maria Colon of Maplewood Intermediate School, Shaka Williams of Silas Wood 6th Grade Center, Jennifer DeNoble of Stimson Middle School, and Mark Graciani of Walt Whitman High School for their continued commitment to the Project Excel program.