More than 60 third-grade students at ARISE Academy in the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans who have “adopted” Western Carolina University and are known as “Catamount Scholars” recently had an Olympic-sized conversation about perseverance with a former WCU track standout.
The students met with 2012 track Olympian Manteo Mitchell, a former all-conference track star at Western Carolina, via Skype on a large screen. Bessie Goggins, a teacher at ARISE, connected the athlete with the young scholars.
“Manteo Mitchell graduated from my alma mater of Western Carolina University,” said Goggins, a 2006 graduate of WCU who also earned a master’s degree at WCU in 2009. “After his amazing race during the Olympics, I kept thinking about how awesome it would be if my young scholars – whom I call WCU Catamounts – could have a discussion with him. Our classroom motto is ‘persevere,’ and it all just fits together nicely.”
A 2009 graduate of WCU, Mitchell performed in the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London. He ran the first leg of the preliminary heat for the 4 x 400 meters relay and revealed afterward that he broke his left fibula at the 200-meter mark. Thanks to his perseverance, the U.S. team would go on to earn a silver medal for the 4 x 400 meters relay.
When asked by the young scholars why he kept running, Mitchell said that he wanted to meet the expectations of his team and his country. He told the scholars that they should persevere in all aspects of their life. “Don’t give up on anything or anyone you want to be,” said Mitchell. “Set small goals, achieve them and go from there.”
After the conversation with Mitchell, the scholars decorated thank you cards that expressed how excited they were to meet an Olympic athlete and thanked him for showing such perseverance for his country during the international competition.
ARISE Academy is a transformational charter school that opened in 2009 in response to the community’s needs after Katrina. It currently serves students from prekindergarten through fifth grade, and it will continue to expand to teach students up to eighth grade.
For more information about ARISE Academy, visit www.ariseacademy.org or contact school personnel at 504-615-6354.