Most students entering sixth grade at Wilson Middle School have to wait until August to get an up-close look at their new school. Not so for nearly 40 boys enrolled in the Compass Summer Enrichment Academy.

On Wednesday, about 20 boy, all rising sixth-graders, grabbed shovels and rakes to spruce up their soon-to-be campus. Another group went to the Harvest Center in the Double Oaks community to prepare and serve food, sort clothes and assist the staff.

Both activities were part of a service project designed to teach the boys about the value of giving back to community. The six-week program also focused on math, reading and leadership.

Kim Weaver, who co-founded the Compass academy along with her husband, Sean, said today’s hands-on work was designed to give the boys a sense of accomplishment and team-building.

“It’s a sense of ownership,” she said. “It’s one thing to sit and talk about things you can do in the community.”

Charles Hicklen, 13, a rising seventh-grader at Wilson Middle, said he initially went through the program last year and was invited back this summer as a team leader.

“It’s been fun to be able to get out of my neighborhood and do something good,” he said as he helped remove weeds and build new flowerbeds at the school. “Everybody motivates each other. We’re brothers; we’re a team.”

Not far away, Jonquavious Benton, Angelou Thomas and Samson Stowe, all 12, were sweating in the summer heat as they shoveled a mulch pile into large gray trash containers.

Kim Weaver said the boys during a brainstorming session came up with the idea of fixing up their school grounds and doing something to help the homeless.

Using money from a federal program, the Compass academy has been working with sixth-grade boys at Wilson Middle for more than a year. Located on Tuckaseegee Road in West Charlotte, the school qualifies for additional federal funds because of its high poverty rate.

Kim Weaver said the program keeps the boys off the streets during summer months and gives them an early look at their new school. At this age, she said, some are “one decision away from ruining their lives.”

The boys this summer also toured Johnson C. Smith and heard from guest speakers, including a local banker and a former NFL player now coaching high school football. The summer program ends next week.

Photo Below: Kim and Sean Weaver founded the Compass academy six years ago in Indiana. They brought the program to Charlotte when they moved here three years ago.

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