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BHS student completes ‘Rites of Passage’ program

Marcellus Dees, a student in the Burnsville High School Class of 2018, was recently honored for completing a six-month Rites of Passage Program (ROP) sponsored annually by the Minneapolis Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

The program is designed to recognize and assist young African-American men in the transition into leaders of tomorrow while learning and respecting the collective history as people of African descent. Each year the ROP selects high school seniors from the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area who are college-bound, have cumulative GPAs of 2.5 or higher, are actively engaged in community service and meet other specific criteria.

In the Rites of Passage Program, students are paired with an African American adult male mentor to focus on topics such as time management, collegiate application and financial aid process, men’s health, legal rights, life skills, social and personal responsibility and communicating a positive image in a digital world.

The program culminates in an Afrocentric semi-formal ceremony in which the initiates perform a step routine, are dressed in African attire and are presented to their families and community as young men, ready for the next challenges in life.

“Marcellus is a quiet young man who never ceases to amaze me and all of us,” said his teacher Julie Miller-Hays. “He is truly a role model to others and he exemplifies the gifts his parents and family have given him. I know he will do great things.”

Miller-Hays says a quote from Marcellus’ Rites of Passage paper provides insights into him. He wrote: “My life has had many obstacles and challenges, but through the valleys and peaks, I feel I have maintained a quiet power. As a young man with epilepsy and autism the world tends to pre-judge my capabilities. However, I continue to disprove society daily with everyday a-ha moments.”

Marcellus is the son of Andriel and Michael Dees of Burnsville.

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Photo: Marcellus Dees, at the Rites of Passage Program celebration, is second from the left.
Posted: Friday, June 8, 2018 - 10:55