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Local woman teaches youth in Black Achievers' program

October 05, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Loretta McFarland wears many hats. Her most recent one - as the Arts and Culture cluster leader for the Black Achievers program - combines her longtime interests in drama, singing and expressive movement.

"It just sort of fits in with my life, what I like to do and what I've been doing for a long time," McFarland said.

This is the second year McFarland, 48, has been involved with Black Achievers, which had their kickoff last weekend. She does this in addition to working the night shift at Washington County Hospital as a medical laboratory technician.

She also serves as pastor of Wellspring of Life Family Worship Center, which meets at the Hagerstown YMCA on Sunday mornings.

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McFarland's schedule requires careful orchestration, but it's worth it, she said. Since the Black Achievers don't meet every week and take field trips, she might only lead her cluster once or twice a month on Sunday afternoons at the Hagerstown YMCA.

"It pushes me to learn more about it and stay up on it," McFarland said of the Arts and Culture cluster.

The program is open to students in grades 6 to 12 and operates during the school year. Last year, McFarland had eight to 10 students in her cluster, but she isn't sure how many she'll have this year.

Two of last year's Arts and Culture cluster students attend the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, she said.

During the cluster time, McFarland guides her students in reading dramas, plays, poetry and singing, including some African-style singing.

She said last year the students were shy about performing, but they gained confidence by the end of the school year. This year, she will encourage them to take their talents out into the community, performing for Black Achievers events, as well as their churches and schools.

McFarland grew up in Covington, Tenn. She graduated from Covington High School in 1979, from nursing school in 1981 and theology school, studying from taped lessons, through Life Christian University in Florida in 2005.

She has a 26-year-old daughter who lives in Gaithersburg, Md., and a 14-year-old son who is a student at South Hagerstown High School. Her son is involved with the Government and Law cluster of Black Achievers and plays trumpet in the South High marching band. McFarland is a member of the band boosters.

The McFarlands moved here about 15 years ago for her husband's job. He is now retired from the military.

"I'm looking forward to another year. I want to ensure the students get to the greatest level they can achieve. They can do it with effort and if they dedicate some time to it," McFarland said.

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