3 weeks ago

Alabama’s Valiant Cross Academy works to propel young men to greatness

The world’s next Nelson MandelaBryan Stevenson or Booker T. Washington might just hail from Montgomery, Alabama.

Indeed, a generation of remarkable young men is being trained at Valiant Cross Academy, where daily learning is steeped in discipline and self-worth. It seems fitting that the state capitol is home to a school that provides outstanding education while providing boys with strong values on which to build their lives.

Seeing the “many obvious problems that plagued the community,” brothers Anthony and Fred Brock started their all-boys school, Valiant Cross Academy, in 2015. The Brocks and their staff of 26 daily pour their love, caring and high expectations into the boys, and encourage them to dream big dreams.

“My brother and I were so blessed to grow up with a great father,” said Anthony Brock, whose dad was a school principal for Montgomery Public Schools. “It’s a calling on my life to work with young men.”

Working in education for more than 20 years, Brock’s mission is to nurture young people. This year, Valiant Cross will set 280 students on the road to a good future. Young men entering 11th grade this year began as fifth-graders and will make up the school’s first graduating class in 2022.

“These boys are all gifted and talented,” said Brock, founder of the Brother2Brother and Sister2Sister mentoring program that meets in Montgomery and Autauga counties. “They just need someone in their community to lift them up. Valiant Cross Academy is a place where a lot of guys’ confidence grows by leaps and bounds.

“We just really love on them, intentionally,” he said. “The adults in the building tell them all day long that they love them. There’s an opportunity gap, not an achievement gap. We give them an opportunity – the first step is nurturing them.”

Not surprisingly, Valiant Cross Academy has a long wait list. With campuses in the heart of downtown – at 301 Dexter Ave. and at Troy University – this fully accredited private school puts a strong focus on ACT scores.

Their students will engage in virtual learning because of the pandemic. Classes start Aug. 10, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Valiant Cross has offerings not seen in public schools: a Korean language class; a Cisco networking component; a partnership with Troy University for dual enrollment; and a partnership with Red Tails Scholarship Foundation flight school in Tuskegee. Sports aren’t left out: Fred Brock leads the athletic program with Willie Spears serving as football coach and Tyrone Boleware returning to coach the junior varsity championship track team.

Last year, nine or 10 boys took part in the Red Tails flight program. Four Tuskegee University students came to Montgomery to train the boys, who must first pass the ground portion of the class. Two students have been up in the air but haven’t yet soloed.

“Only 2 percent of pilots are African American,” said Brock, who graduated from Lanier High School and Alabama State University. “We’ll have anywhere from 10 to 15 students attending flight class this year. I believe we’re doing our little part to help improve the big picture.”

Getting by with a little help from some friends

The Alabama Power Foundation in 2019 awarded Valiant Cross a grant to buy PowerSchool software, which can help better prepare students for college success. The school has already begun using the software to track admissions and attendance and provide transcripts for college applications. PowerSchool can be used to help students keep up with their grades, their grade point average and ACT scores. The academy also used the grant to buy books.

Alabama Power employees have helped, as well. Southern Division Chapter members of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) have assisted the academy with several projects.

“APSO has sent crews over to cook out with the kids and clean the buildings before school starts,” Brock said. “They go out and do different projects for us. … We really appreciate that.”

Brock said the school is always in fundraising mode. The academy’s spring fundraiser was canceled because of the pandemic, and Brock is planning a fall event that will feature Cisco Systems Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins.

Many students rely on scholarships through the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund and the Alabama Accountability Act, in which donors get a tax credit. Tuition is $6,500 for middle school and $8,000 for high school.

“We take part in the Accountability Act and a lot of guys get scholarships,” he said. The legislation provides funds to low-income students in kindergarten through 12th grade to go to a private school.

Summoning strength from on high

Everything that is done at Valiant Cross is done in an orderly fashion, and with purpose.

Brock said the staff receives “countless stories with good feedback from parents. Their young men become more respectful, they have more mature conversations and they have conversations about God.”

“We have what we call ‘Morning Village’ each morning,” he said. “That’s where we go into the church and do our mottos. The boys go up to the altar and pray and shake off any ‘cobwebs’ from home last night.”

As head of the academy, Brock daily stands with the boys as they repeat the school motto. Their message is “breathed out” in the building so much, he said, the beliefs are part of the kids: “We are Valiant Cross Academy. Our God is mighty. We will rise above with honor. We will rise above with discipline. We will rise above with integrity. We will rise above with excellence, and we will rise above with love. We are Valiant Cross Academy: in this place, young men will rise above.”

“We revisit all those five values throughout the day,” Brock said.

While he believes students at any school will do well with greater expectations, Valiant Cross sets a standard that will propel students to a higher destiny.

“I have an unwavering belief that Valiant Cross Academy will birth the next generation of great leaders,” he said.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 mins ago

Ivey urges Alabamians to complete Census — Billions in funding, congressional seat at stake

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Friday released a video public service announcement urging Yellowhammer State residents to complete the 2020 Census.

The deadline to complete the Census recently was moved up to September 30, meaning there is less than seven weeks left for Alabamians to either self-respond or respond to Census Bureau field staff.

Leaders from the public sector, as well as industry, economic development, charitable and civic organizations, have warned for months that Alabama has a lot on the line during the 2020 Census response period.

Projections have shown the state will lose a congressional district and corresponding electoral college vote — likely to a far-left state such as New York, California or Illinois — if Alabama’s response rate continues to lag.

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“Complete your 2020 Census today,” Ivey said to begin the new PSA. “We only have until September 30.”

“Without you, Alabama stands to lose billions in funding, a seat in Congress and economic development opportunities,” she continued. “It only takes minutes to complete. Go to my2020census.gov or participate by phone or mail.”

The governor concluded, “Be counted — if not for you, for those in Alabama who depend on you for a brighter tomorrow.”

Watch:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

56 mins ago

Report: Birmingham golf tournament Regions Tradition canceled for 2020

A report from WBRC in Birmingham on Friday says that the yearly golf tournament Regions Tradition has canceled the 2020 edition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event organizers say it will be back in early May of 2021.

WBRC says they were told by a “source close to the tournament” about the decision to cancel the 2020 version.

The tournament had previously been rescheduled from its normal late spring/early summer slot until September due to COVID-19 concerns.

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Regions Tradition is a tournament on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, a series of competitions held each year for golfers over age 50.

According to Alabama NewsCenter, the annual Regions Tradition tournament has an economic impact on the Birmingham area between $20 million and $25 million every year.

The Tradition was first held in 1989 and is one of the five major golf tournaments on the Senior Circuit.

Regions took over as the event’s sponsor in 2010 and relocated the tournament to the Birmingham area beginning in 2011.

Steve Stricker won the tournament in 2019, a title he will now keep for two years.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 hour ago

Jefferson County health officials say coronavirus pandemic precautions will continue into 2021

Two impactful figures in Jefferson County’s healthcare system advised on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic and resulting precautions such as mask-wearing will remain a major factor in public life at least through the end of 2020.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson and CEO of the UAB Health System/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance Will Ferniany briefed reporters on coronavirus information during a Friday morning videoconference.

“This pandemic is not going away by the end of December,” warned Ferniany.

Wilson said it was “very likely” that he would push to keep a mask order in place across Jefferson County “through the flu season” which would indicate the ordinance would stay in place at least through the spring of 2021.

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“We have pretty good evidence that our face-covering orders, and our help from the public wearing face coverings, has made a difference,” remarked Wilson.

“We still have a ways to go but we’re starting to bend the curve downward,” Wilson told reporters.

The remarks made by Wilson and Ferniany are similar to what Mobile County epidemiologist Dr. Rendi Murphree told Yellowhammer News in recent days.

Ferniany said that UAB is making a significant investment in rapid testing that should be ready for action by the end of the year, the availability of which should make dealing with the virus more manageable.

Wilson highlighted a standard he felt more people should understand.

The county health officer said that any person exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days, even if they go out and get a test showing they do not have the virus.

“Fourteen days is the maximum amount of time from being exposed to the virus where you could still develop symptoms,” Wilson said to explain the policy.

Ferniany said UAB Hospital is currently treating around 90 patients, down from a peak of 130. He relayed that 40 of the COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized are in the ICU.

RELATED: Alabama coronavirus update: Hospitalizations begin to decrease, new cases falling

The executive also said that the toughest aspect of caring for COVID-19 cases currently is the shortage of nurses. He said the hospitals he oversees are down “several hundred nurses” with the partial explanation that traveling nursing companies are luring workers away with higher wages.

Wilson reported additional good news for Jefferson County. He said that the area is not experiencing a higher rate of black citizens dying from COVID-19 than white citizens.

“So far we’re not seeing a racial disparity in terms of deaths in Jefferson County,” he relayed.

“Forty-one percent of our deaths in Jefferson County with COVID-19 are African American. The African American population is 43%,” Wilson stated.

Yellowhammer News asked Wilson what kind of benchmarks he would need to be passed to trigger a loosening of coronavirus precautions and whether that would be dependent on a vaccine.

“We’re not going to be out of the woods for quite a long time,” Wilson responded.

“The bottom line will be the amount of disease activity we have in the community, and the trajectory of that,” he continued.

With respect to the vaccine, Wilson replied, “It is really hard to predict what is going to happen with the vaccine: How effective is it going to be, how widespread we’re going to be able to vaccinate people and how soon. There are way too many unknowns for us to say much about that.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Rep. Aderholt: GOP control of House not out of reach, Senate should remain Republican

Before the onset of the pandemic, Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill were optimistic about the possibility of recapturing the House and maintaining control of the Senate.

However, the mood of the body politic has changed with the arrival of COVID-19 and has made the future a bit murky. Still maintaining a level of optimism is U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), who thinks Republicans could make gains this election but is unsure if they can make enough gains to assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Aderholt offered his view of those prospects on both sides of the U.S. Capitol as they stand now.

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“Republicans always want to be optimistic,” Aderholt said. “We’ve got about 18 seats that we’re down right now. And the question is, can we pick up that and plus a seat or two to get the majority. To say it is a sure thing — it’s not. It’s going to be a tough election year, especially in the congressional districts where the Biden folks are going to be getting out, or the anti-Trump. I don’t think they’re so supportive of Biden, but they’re just anti-Trump.”

“I think we can pick up seats,” he continued. “I think it is entirely possible because of Donald Trump. He is going to be at the top of the ticket, and he is going to really help some members that really get the vote out to help them. The question is nobody knows will there be how many we can pick up. I won’t be surprised if we do pick up some seats. The question is, will we pick up 18 to 20, enough to take the majority. And that’s something we won’t know until closer on.”

Aderholt did not think Democrats could regain the U.S. Senate and added that he saw the seat currently occupied by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) flipping to a Republican seat, which makes those prospects more difficult for Democrats.

“I’m still optimistic the Senate can stay Republican,” Aderholt added. “I know there are three or four seats that are still toss-ups, so to speak that are Republican-held now. Obviously, I think we’re going to win the Doug Jones seat. That will be a pick-up for us. I don’t think the ones that are questionable, Republicans that are having a hard time right now, I don’t think we’ll lose all of them. We might lose one or two. But I think at the end of the day, we’re still going to stay over 50.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

6 hours ago

7 Things: Biden calls for impossible nationwide mask mandate, Alabama unemployment continues to trend down, good coronavirus news in the Yellowhammer State and more …

7. Black Sons of Confederate Veterans member wants monuments kept

  • Daniel Sims is a black man and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and during a now viral interview with a local news station, he advocated for keeping Confederate flags on display and leaving monuments up. In the interview, he displayed multiple depictions of the flag.
  • Sims said he is adopted and he has adopted his family’s heritage, saying that he “went to an all-white school, grew up in an all-white neighborhood. My grandfather was white, and he was the main one who fought in this war here. And he’s taught me everything I know.” He added that if he’s “got anything to do with it, ain’t no monument going to come down.”

6. No, Trump didn’t say don’t fund the post office

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  • While interviewing on Fox News, President Donald Trump discussed the issue of mail-in voting and the United States Postal Service, and Trump said that in the coronavirus relief package, Democrats have detailed that the USPS needs $25 billion. The president added, “[T]hey need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.”
  • Trump went on to say that “if we don’t make a deal that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.” Now, people are saying this is voter suppression and calling for Trump to be impeached again.

5. Peace agreement in the Middle East

  • Progress in creating a peaceful Middle East took a step forward yesterday when the United States helped broker a peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to stabilize a region of the world that has required a large amount of American military interventions in the past.
  • Obviously, not everyone is happy. American Democrats (except for Biden who thinks he did it) and the media view this as a problem while Iran and Turkey have called this peace deal “dagger” in the backs of Palestinians and the region’s Muslim populations. The Trump administration intimated that this was only the first step in this process and other deals could be announced soon.

4. Mazda Toyota is upping its Huntsville investment

  • The current Mazda Toyota Manufacturing investment is currently at $2.311 billion in North Alabama after the company announced that they’d be increasing their investment by $830 million during an event in Huntsville that was held virtually.
  • To detail what the investment will cover, Governor Kay Ivey made an announcement saying that it will “incorporate new cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees.”

3. Good coronavirus news is good

  • For three straight days, the state of Alabama saw new case numbers below 1,000 for the first time since June. This is great news, but it doesn’t end there. The average of new coronavirus cases (1,156) is down 18% in a week from 1,415 on August 6.
  • Hospitalization across the state saw an average of 108 coronavirus patients per day last week, but the average was between 160 and 200 since July 17 and the first time the rate has declined week to week since all of this started. There is some grim news, too, as Alabama saw one of its highest mortality weeks so far with 24 people dying on average each day.

2. Unemployment claims are down

  • New data released by the Alabama Labor Department shows that 9,468 people filed for unemployment last week, which is the second-lowest week we’ve had in unemployment since March 14.
  • Jefferson County had the most claims at 1,142, Madison County had 573, Mobile County had 1,025 and Montgomery County had 459. This continues the downward trend for nearly a month now.

1. Biden is advocating for a national mask mandate

  • Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden has come out in favor of a national mask mandate to fight the coronavirus, despite 34 states already having a mandate, and President Donald Trump is now accusing Biden of trying “to politicize a pandemic.”
  • During a press briefing, Trump addressed the idea of a national mask mandate, and emphasized, “Biden has been wrong about the virus, ignoring the scientific evidence and putting left-wing politics before facts.” He added that a national mask approach by Biden is “regressive, unscientific and bad for our country.”