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Posted: February 24, 2010 12:01 a.m.

The first Young Legend

Former WSCC student, tutor plans to be future social worker

By Brittany Thomas/

The Washington Street Community Center is an important part of Covington's black history, but many of the young students who pass through its doors every day wouldn't know that if not for Breisha Dupree.
For years Dupree has been one of Executive Director Bea Jackson's right hand women, volunteering frequently at the center to tutor young people and help oversee programs.
However, Dupree not only lent a helping hand, she was the main driving force behind some of the center's marquee programs, including the year-round youth group, The Young Legends.
She also helped start WSCC's black history program, where the students who attend tutoring sessions also get a black history lesson every day.
"This was one of the only schools that educated blacks. It's a place with a lot of history and pride, in the middle of one of the main black neighborhoods in Newton County," Dupree said. "Everyone
knows everybody in this community. We have to take care of it. That's why we wanted to give the younger members a sense of pride and heritage."

And she did all of this as a teenager. Three years later, after an early education Dupree has come home to the WSCC to continue some of that work. Later this fall, she plans to attend graduate school, where she'll learn some of the finer details about how to become some other city's Bea Jackson.

Dupree knows the Washington Street community well, because she and her cousins often visited their grandmother, who lived a couple of streets down from the WSCC. Dupree herself grew up in the Nelson Heights community, another close-knit black community.; from an early age, she was surrounded by strong role models and loving family and friends.

Two of the strongest role models may have been T.K. and Louise Adams, who were among Dupree's Sunday school teachers at Grace United Methodist Church. The couple has also been among WSCC's longest serving tutors, and they often brought Dupree with them.

Whether it was student government, Spanish club, academic team or softball, Dupree was always involved.

"My mom always encouraged me to take advantage of any opportunities, and to do whatever I wanted to do," said Dupree, whose mother and father both worked with the local Head Start program.

It came as no surprise that as Dupree aged and reached middle school she decided to transition from WSCC tutee to tutor.

"It was a way to give back to the community, and I always enjoyed with younger kids. In high school I started to build up those relationships with my fellow high schoolers and middle school students. It just came more natural to me," she said.

Many of those students were more involved with the summer enrichment program. The program is designed to keep students occupied during the summer while also enriching their lives, through music, drama and arts programs, in ways they wouldn't normally experience.

At the end of one summer, Dupree told Jackson she thought the program should last all year round.

"I think I experienced withdrawal from the group. Ms. Bea always told me to pursue my goals, she always backed me. So, I called up the students and told them the program was becoming a full-year," she said.

And that's how the WSCC Young Legends were born. As part of a senior youth apprenticeship program at Eastside High School, Dupree developed a full range of programs. They were for students of all ages.

Classes were created to teach nutrition and cooking, fitness, athletics, dance and drama. Sponsors included General Mills, the Newton County Recreation Department and the Newton County Arts Association.

"We used to ask what can we do to fill up the center. We used to say it should be filled up with children every day. You get what you ask for," Dupree said.

Her Young Legends continued to focus on community service and college preparation, including the search for scholarships and financial aid. The 10 original students became like their own family, and even when Dupree went off to Mercer University they all stayed in touch.

"They would call me when they had a problem or send emails or Facebook. They were like my babies. If they couldn't tell their parents, they could tell me; for some I was like a big sister," she said.

Now that she's back from Mercer, Dupree is proud of those students who have grow up to become leaders themselves. She's also pleased to see that the youth group is still going strong as students graduate and others join.

A criminal justice and psychology major at Mercer, Dupree wants to have a children-related career in some way, either as a juvenile advocate or as social worker with a non-profit. She's currently looking into graduate schools to pursue her studies.

Wherever she ends up, Dupree will never forget WSCC, and she'll never forget the importance of building communities.

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