CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. Attorney Dena J. King participated in an end-of-schoolyear celebration during a mentoring session at Charlotte’s Turning Point Academy. Turning Point Academy is an alternative option designed to meet the educational needs of historically underserved middle school and high school students. In addition to providing an educational curriculum, the program offers therapeutic intervention services and behavior and academic prevention and intervention programs, to assist students with developing and implementing a personal plan while attending the program.
In April, U.S. Attorney King was invited to speak to a group of students at Turning Point Academy about her background and experiences as a student and share her challenges and successes as a lawyer throughout her legal career. During her initial visit, U.S. Attorney King was invited to join the Sister Circle, a group made up of high school students at the Academy. Since then, U.S. Attorney King has regularly led mentoring sessions with the Sister Circle students, during which they discuss a number of topics including educational goals, the importance of civic duty, respecting oneself and others, and other areas of interest to the students.
“Being part of the Sister Circle has been a great privilege,” said U.S. Attorney King. “I’m honored to be a member of this close-knit group and I thank the students for placing their trust in me and letting me into their world. My participation has also given me the opportunity to get to know the students better, understand their life experiences, find ways to help them set high expectations for themselves, and encourage their passion for lifelong success. I plan to continue to be in touch with the students and do my part in helping them stay on a positive path.”
Since taking office, U.S. Attorney King has made youth engagement a priority of her community outreach efforts. To date, U.S. Attorney King has collaborated with school districts throughout Western North Carolina to promote youth engagement, support young people in developing the skills they need for future success, and empower students to reach their full potential. Ms. King has spoken with students with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Iredell County Schools, Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, McDowell County Schools and Cherokee Schools on the Qualla Boundary. During her interactions with the students, U.S. Attorney King has encouraged students to discuss the challenges they face and has urged young people to voice their ideas on how to address these issues.
“As grown-ups we get used to communicating with young people by telling them what they ought to do. However, communication should flow both ways and nobody knows better the challenges young people face than young people,” said U.S. Attorney King. “The purpose of my meetings with students is to hear their stories, learn the impact of trauma and violence in their lives, listen to their thoughts on disparities and inequities throughout society, and understand the obstacles they need to overcome to realize their full potential. These interactions can help guide our violence prevention strategy at a federal level and determine what federal funding and resources are available to address our students’ needs,” King added.
Throughout her school engagements, U.S. Attorney King has also recognized all the adults who work hard to ensure students have the tools and skills they need to succeed. “Students do not succeed on their own,” U.S. Attorney King stated. “There is an extensive and dedicated support network of teachers, administrators, parents, guardians, trusted adults and community members working hard to ensure young people learn how to successfully navigate life’s twists and turns, understand how to become valued members of our communities, and more importantly how they can grow up to develop into positive agents of change. I thank all these individuals for their hard work and their ongoing commitment to our children.”