Camelot Students take trip of a Lifetime thanks to their Fundraising
A group of vulnerable high school students, most of whom have never been outside the city of Pensacola in their young lifetimes completed a trip to Atlanta last weekend that they won’t soon forget – and they earned the trip by operating a school store that sold snacks.
The students (and their chaperones) from Camelot Academy of Escambia County used the money they raised to charter a luxury motor coach, stay in a first class hotel, go to an Atlanta Braves game and visit Six Flags over Georgia.
The school’s admissions coordinator Shawn Milowe says the fund-raising was the only way to accomplish the goal. He wanted to be able to take students on more field trips to expose them to the world outside of Pensacola so he came up with the idea for the store. Students also raised money through car washes and bake sales.
“The greatest enjoyment for us was to see the kids’ faces light up when the long charter bus pulled up,” Milowe said. “That was topped by their reaction when we arrived at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta. They had never seen anything like that.”
These kids come from single-parent homes. The level of poverty and disadvantage is extreme. Many of the students have gotten into trouble and were sent to Camelot as a second chance to get their lives turned around. They probably didn’t imagine a trip like this was possible when they first arrived at Camelot.
Mr. Milowe said that students learned many lessons from the trip, including that you can have a multitude of experiences if you set goals and work hard to achieve them. The hope was that students’ families could provide $50 to allow kids to buy snacks and souvenirs on the trip but many just didn’t have the money. That led to another lesson learned, generosity.
Some of the students chipped in to help their classmates. For example, one student, Antonio Lightening-Hall, who has a job overnights, gave some of the less fortunate students money to help them enjoy their trips. In fact, Lightening-Hall was generous throughout the year helping students buy food at the school store when they were short. (Antonio who is 18 amazingly works from 7P to 4A and still wakes up for school every day.)
Lightening-Hall along with classmates Parnevia Brown and Mo’lesha Moorer managed the school store, which sold food and snacks. Mr. Milowe taught them how to run the business, how to do a spread sheet, calculate numbers and do the bookkeeping. They learned so much from the experience that Parnevia is now talking about one day becoming a Certified Public Accountant.
“The trip also speaks volumes about our students’ character,” Milowe said. “Coming from their backgrounds with police records, these are the toughest students in the public school environment. But when you put them in our school environment they begin doing good and looking out for one another. In our culture these students go above and beyond for one another. They have each other’s backs. In how many schools will you see one student buying something for a less fortunate student?”
Many of the students who attend Camelot don’t have a structure at home. They are given structure at Camelot. They look up to teachers and administrators as authority figures and ask for advice. Milowe says, “we share good times and bad times and when certain students struggle we feel the struggles as well. We care about these students and we as a school have become a family.”
The school leaders feel so many lessons were learned from this project – from planning the trip, raising money both at school and outside of school and students helping other students with donations –they now want to make this an annual project. .
“We’re talking about going to Disney World next year,” Milowe said.
The 29 students who made the trip included: Antonio Lightening-Hall, Akiya Williams, Parnevia Brown, Savannah Cline, Alexandria Harrison, Jaylen Millender, Jasmine Durant, Trevon Lewis, Jessica Warren, Walter Bivins, Mathew Berry-Rivera, Jemil Clemmons, Daylen Fennell, Joshua Kiefer, Morgan McChessney, Mo’lesha Moorer, Kevonshay Peterson, Aviona Seals, Joshua Hardy, Joise Smith, Natalie Fonseca, Nyaisha Baldwin, Charles Vigue, Jeffresha Jones, Jo’Shana Andrews, Sierra Lark, Zachary Jordan, Emily Fox, and Deon Mobly.