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Posted: Monday, March 15, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:16 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS–In a program honoring Black History Month, 10 young people of Harker Heights Community Church regaled their congregation with the first African-American Quiz Bowl showing their academic skills and knowledge of African-American history Sunday evening.

Five girls on a team sponsored by the Killeen Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Academy and Delta GEMS Program faced off with a team of one girl and four boys on the HHCC Successful Saints team to answer questions in five categories: Achievements and Milestones, Music Pioneers, Religion/History, Medical Pioneers, and Movies and Television. All the questions concerned major events and achievements by African-Americans, such as medical discoveries, Pulitzer Prizes and the first black to be invited to the White House (in 1901).

Each team had an adult coach: Tara Smith for the GEMS and Linda Williams and George Parks for the Saints. The GEMS included Shanelia Williams, captain, and Tera Patrice Jones, Kinnisha Jackson, Teri Jenkins and Cherisse Delgado. The Saints were Sammy Clark III, captain, and Alyssa Howard, Elijah Brown, and brothers Taylor Robbins McDade and Terrell Robbins McDade. Terrell, a seventh-grader, was the youngest contestant on either team. All are junior high and high school students with high grade-point averages and lists of activities and accomplishments.

At intermission time, the two teams were running about neck and neck for the finish.

In a short worship service preceding the Quiz Bowl, minister Roderick Brown said, "I pray that you'll get something out of this evening and be more proud of who you are."

Guest speaker John W. Tarver, a first-grade teacher at West Ward Elementary School, asked the congregation, "How many of you have ever failed a test?"

Virtually every hand in the room went up.

"What did you do?" Many answered, "Cried."

"But was that the end?" he asked.

He recounted a story told by CBS news personality Byron Pitts, who has recently finished a book, about a professor at Ohio Wesleyan University who was returning tests. He threw Pitts' test down on his desk and said, "Mr. Pitts. D-plus. Bravo." Later the professor told the future star he thought he was "not material for this school. I want you to tell your mother." But Pitts redoubled his resolve and got a job at a radio station that launched his career.

"It's important to get past your failures and struggles, to build courageousness and get over it when people throw discouragement at you," he said. "Without education, you become stagnant, a condition that follows when you stop developing, growing, advancing. You young people here may become parents and should remember that your children need you to be a foundation for them.

"The best of us fail at times, but just keep building in your endeavors."

Another key feature of the service was a presentation by seven young ladies from In His Presence Dance Ministry & Academy, a ballet-style dance depicting prevailing over adverse circumstances, and several young people read poems and led other parts of the service. The congregation sang the hymn, "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Contact Don Bolding at dbolding@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7557. Follow him on Twitter at KDHbusiness.

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