Seat Pleasant mayor Eugene Grant said the vision by former Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin to educate a group of elementary school children from his community two decades ago was not in vain.
On Sunday the Washington Post published the first of three articles about the 1998 fifth-grade class at Seat Pleasant Elementary after Pollin and businessman Melvin Cohen offered four-year scholarships for those who completed high school and got accepted to college.
Eleven of the 59 children graduated from a four-year college, and 12 attended trade school. Most important, Grant said, was that 83 percent graduated from high school, far higher than the Prince George’s County average.
“What the businessmen saw were diamonds in our community and they invested in those diamonds,” Grant said. “Was this investment a success ? The answer is an overwhelmingly yes.”
Grant was 17 and being raised by a single mother when Pollin and Cohen come to the elementary school a few blocks from his house. Grant attended the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts in Northwest D.C. He said in those days many children had a drive to be successful even though they didn’t have a lot of money.
“There were bright young people in Seat Pleasant who were not committing crimes,” Grant said. “The fact that there is poverty in a community doesn’t mean that there will be crime. Most of the children graduated from high school because they had something to reach for.”
Grant also questioned why the articled highlighted the fact that one of the children was Tiffany Alston, who after becoming a lawyer and a Maryland State Delegate, was indicted twice on ethics charges.
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