Thanks to the combined efforts of the Kansas City Kansas Community Police Unit and the men's soccer program at Kansas City Kansas Community College, students that need that extra attention in four KCK schools are getting life-changing opportunities.
Titled BOSS, an acronym for Being of Sound Standards, it's a youth based program geared toward preparing youth to become future leaders and productive citizens through attitude enhancement and promoting academic standards.
"Our goal is to build a relationship with the youth that empowers young people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to become successful in high school and beyond," says Officer Kevin Terry, who is coordinating the program with two other KCK Community Police officers, Jesus Casas and Anthony Lee.
"It's a mentoring program for fifth graders. We go to a school and have the principal and staff select 10 students who need encouragement in three areas – The AAA concept Academics, Attendance and Attitude. Once the students are selected we have shirts made that easily identify the students as BOSS students. These shirts include the school colors, logos, and the BOSS emblem.
"Then each week we visit the students at their schools to see how they are doing in the three targeted areas and evaluate what each student needs to improvement on, Those who fulfill the requirements are allowed to participate in that week's special event. For those who fall short, they are encouraged to do better and returned to the classroom, that way the special events become motivation to do better. We look at the BOSS group as a family and we never kick anyone out.
"However, we do involve the parents in the program by requiring them to sign a contract supporting our efforts at school. If the areas of need are not implemented at home, they're not going to work at school."
At the same time Officer Terry was conducting the BOSS program, KCKCC men's soccer coach Ruben Rodriguez had implemented an after school program in which members of the Blue Devil soccer team would go to schools and not only teach soccer but encourage development of various life skills.
"Neither of us knew about the other's programs and once we found out, it was an instant partnership," said Rodriguez. "We introduced our program under the BOSS program with a specific goal to keep these kids in school and encourage them to attend KCKCC or other area colleges."
Right now, four elementary schools are participating in the joint program – John F. Kennedy, Emerson, John Fiske and Junction Elementary in the Turner School District. "We'll evaluate the program at the end of the school year with the hope of possible expansion," said Officer Terry.
BOSS students who meet the weekly requirements will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities ranging from teamwork with LEGO building activities, attending a Royals game, bowling parties, to being able to attend a Dave & Buster's field trip. The students will also get to hear special guest speakers from the community and the Police Department. District Attorney Mark Dupree was one of the first guest speakers to donate his time to talk to the students. There is a growing list of other community and political leaders, athletes, and potential speakers who will participate. "Every week they get excited about what we're going to do with them next," says Officer Terry.
A joint program coordinated by KCK Community Police officers Jesus Casas (left) and Kevin Terry (right) and KCKCC men's soccer coach Ruben Rodriguez is being offered fifth grade students in four schools to promote improvement in the areas of academics, attendance and attitude. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)