If you go

What: Fourth annual From Boyz to Gentlemen SummitWhen: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. SaturdayWhere: West Ashley High School, 4060 West Wildcat Blvd.Price: Free and open to the publicMore info: 937-6462

If you are the parent of a school-age son, especially African-American or Hispanic, you might want to mark Saturday on your calendar.

That's when the Charleston County School District will hold its fourth annual From Boyz to Gentlemen Summit at West Ashley High School, 4060 West Wildcat Blvd.

The 9 a.m.-3 p.m. summit is set for parents and their sons to address issues affecting young men of color.

Topics include a wide array of issues, including student achievement and graduation rates and how to keep African-American and Hispanic males from falling further behind in education.

The goal is to help young boys focus so they can develop into young men of honor and success, said Dr. Brenda Nelson, director of the Office of Community Outreach, which puts on the summit.

The day-long event drew more than 600 parents and sons last year, Nelson said.

Tyesha Drayton of West Ashley was there with her sons, Domeneque, 15, and Tyler, 10. They attended the 2011 summit as well and plan to go on Saturday.

Drayton encourages parents to bring their sons. “It's beneficial.” It is a great support system.

'Education gets top priority'

Drayton, who works in the district's Office of Strategy and Communication, said the summit sessions helped her to have more open communications with her sons.

The 35-year-old single parent said she still finds herself using a quote from one of the speakers: “You pay now and play later or you play now and pay later.”

Education gets top priority in her household. Her sons are expected to go to school and get good grades.

Drayton says there are many stereotypes of African-American males, but she tells her sons they don't have to live by them or be defined by them. “They can rise above them.”

“Look at President Obama.”

A culture for men of color

Students and their parents will sit in on panel discussions by educators, police and ministers. There also will be leadership sessions and a resource fair, “Creating a College Bound Culture for Young Men of Color”.

Some workshops are specifically for parents. Also, a youth panel will allow young men to hear and talk to speakers closer to their own age. They include state Rep. Bakari T. Sellers, attorney and son of Cleveland Sellers; Jermel President, assistant coach at Fort Dorchester High; and minister Lionel Hartwell, youth pastor at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

The young violinist Daniel D. will perform; lunch will be served.

The summit is free and open to everyone, but pre-registration is required. Call 937-6462 or talk to a parent advocate at school.

Also, it's worth checking out www.ccsdschools.com for more information about the Outreach Office.

It was created by Dr. Nancy McGinley in 2007 to provide a bridge between the school district, parents and the community, Nelson said.

It has all kinds of resources to help parents stay involved in their children's schools. It recruits, trains and manages volunteers and delivers social work and support services to “at risk” students and their families.

Each month, workshops are offered to educate parents in areas such as wellness.

Meanwhile, don't miss the summit. It sounds like a great day to spend with your sons.

Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555.