June 20, 2005

Commission chair to keynote awards ceremony

by Larry Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The chairman of the state commission charged with improving the lives of African Americans in Illinois will be the keynote speaker at this year's Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony on Friday, June 24, at the Carbondale Civic Center.

Jesse D. Madison, chairman of the Illinois African-American Family Commission, will speak at a program to recognize outstanding academic achievement by the top African American students in the Carbondale schools. The program and reception for the students and their parents will begin at 7 p.m.

The program will honor the male and female students with the highest GPA in grades four through 12, as well as the senior male and female athletes with the highest GPA. Students in grades one through 12 who maintained perfect attendance during this past school year also will be recognized.

The Southern Illinois Regional Career Preparation Program and Concerned Citizens of Carbondale co-sponsor the program, which now is in its fourth year. 710 Book Store and Silkworm provide additional support for the program.

Besides chairing the Illinois African-American Family Commission, Madison is a member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. Before receiving that appointment in May 2004, he spent almost three years as special assistant to Emil Jones Jr., the president of the Illinois Senate.

Madison also served 11 years as president and chief executive officer of the Abraham Lincoln Centre, a 100-year-old, multifaceted social service organization that operates primarily on the south side of Chicago and serves a population that is predominantly disadvantaged. In 2000, his last year at the centre, he was honored as Humanitarian of the Year and received the prestigious Presidential Lincoln Bust.

Madison served two terms in the Illinois General Assembly and in 1976 received the Best Legislator's Award from the Independent Voters of Illinois for his work as a freshman in the Illinois House. Subsequently, then-Mayor Harold Washington asked Madison to become his first commissioner of consumer services for the city of Chicago. Still later, officials credited Madison with successfully reorganizing the Chicago Park District when he served as its general superintendent and chief executive officer. He was the first African-American ever to lead the park district.

Seymour Bryson, director of the Career Preparation Program, said the awards ceremony is a joint effort with the Concerned Citizens to motivate students in Career Prep and to encourage all students to excel.

Program coordinator Anna Jackson said the entire community is proud of these young people and the public is welcome to attend the ceremony, share in their accomplishments and hear Madison's speech. The awards remind the students that hard work and persistence pay dividends.

Media representatives are welcome to attend. Those with questions can call the Center for Basic Skills at 618/536-6646, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Students receiving honors are:

Carbondale Community High School


Christina Mayberry

Darrin McDaniel

Top Athlete

Christina Mayberry

Darrin McDaniel


Opal Kelly

Iboro Umana


Jolecia Flournory

Eric McCurry


Dannielle Brooks


Antoinette Gaston

Alana Ross

Kenneth Perkoff

Perfect Attendance


Ariel Allen

Antoinette Gaston

Precious Ng'oma

Byron Pugh

Terrence Williams

Carbondale Middle School

Grade 6

Jerel Holmes

Rahkel Martin

Grade 7

Crystalbel Iwuagwu

Jaide Graceson

Dominic Johnson

Grade 8

Jourdin Batchelor

Ishmael Khaaliq

Perfect Attendance

Grade 6

Reginald Box, III

Traneisha Bursey

Desione Elliott

Rahkel Martin

Grade 7

Jaide Graceson

Jeena Koonce

Grade 8

Kamauria Acree

Godfrey Mthethwa Kawewe

Kenechukwu (Kenny) Nsofor

Lewis School

Grade 4

Kaelyn St. James

Pierre McCauley

Grade 5

Breanna Clemons

Mark Richards

Perfect Attendance

Grade 4

Breanna Bailey


Thomas School

Perfect Attendance

Grade 3

Allen Billinger, Jr.

Chauncey Jones

Kenneth Riley

Kennadi Caffey

El ‘Lexus Madkins

Parrish School

Perfect Attendance

Grade 1

Craig Dawson