News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 18, 2010

MLK Youth summit centers on power of education

TERRE HAUTE — Education is the key to becoming a “star” in life, about 175 middle and high school students learned Monday during a Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Summit at the Booker T. Washington Recreational Center in Terre Haute.

Donning T-shirts with an artistic image of King and the phrase “You can be a star,” students alternated among four workshops during the five-hour summit. On the T-shirt was a letter-by-letter definition of Star: S — Strive for excellence; T — Train you mind and body; A — Acknowledge your talents; R — Reach for the stars.

“Regardless of what you do, academics has to be number one. You have to apply yourself,” Alan P. Hill told about 30 students packed in a small upstairs room, with a large framed photograph of Martin Luther King hanging on the wall.

“You can be the best football or basketball player or be the best dancer, or do all of those things, but you still have to study, to work hard to have that success,” he said during one of the workshops. Hill also was the keynote speaker at the summit.

“If you are the most talented athlete but don’t have the grades to participate, what does it matter at the end of the day? You have to acknowledge that, hey, ‘I have a brain up here that really works and it can really allow me to do a lot of things.’ Strive for excellence.”

Hill is vice president for enrollment and marketing at Franklin College in Indiana. He grew up in Otter Creek Township in Vigo County. Hill said he is the 10th of 15 children, with eight sisters and six brothers. He is a 1977 graduate of Terre Haute North Vigo High School, where he was president of Counterpoints (a show choir), and a 1981 graduate of DePauw University, where he was a Division III NCAA national champion pole vaulter, clearing 16 feet 2 inches.

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