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YMCA Black Achiever excels in school, music

April 22, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Twelve-year-old William E. Royster III embodies the mission of the YMCA's newly revived Black Achievers program targeting area youth, said Mike Flicek, YMCA of Hagerstown Inc. executive director.

The seventh-grade Heritage Academy student is a distinguished honors student with a 3.78 grade-point average, a 2005 National English Merit Award winner and a talented pianist.

Flicek said Royster is an outstanding example of many students the program hopes to attract. The program caters to youth in grades seven through 12.

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Royster said learning about blacks in history through educational field trips has been his favorite activity since joining the group.

"Sometimes you don't learn some of the same things at home or even at school," William said.

Understanding the historical accomplishments of blacks and others inspires youths who might not otherwise see positive images that can help build their self confidence, William added.

In addition to excelling academically, William left a memorable impression on the audience when he played Fur Elise by Beethoven at Hagerstown Community College's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January.

"I was greatly impressed with his selection of pieces and his skill and delivery," said Washington County Public Schools retired teacher Leon Brumback, who attended the event.

YMCA Black Achievers programs exist at more than 100 locations around the country. The program, which has mentored and exposed children to various careers since 1971, is open to all children regardless of ethnicity or cultural background, Flicek said.

Like his father, local physician Dr. William E. Royster Jr., William wants to become a doctor. The oldest of three children, he lives in Washington County with his parents and was home-schooled until fifth grade by his mother, Lisa Royster.

"He did very well in home school, and he's always been a distinguished honors student and he's maintained his grades at his current school," Lisa Royster said.

And while William seems to be shy and reserved most of the time, he really warms up when he gets to know you, his parents said.

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