Friday May 2, William Finch Elementary celebrated and honored their namesake with Finch Day. An event created by the great-great granddaughter of William Finch, Kamaria Finch along with Principal Carol Evans and PTA President Aleta Wise.
Created as a way to recognize and honor the legacy of Mr. William Finch, also known in Atlanta as “the father of black public education,” students learned that Mr. Finch was the first black city councilman of Atlanta and instrumental in establishing Atlanta’s first black high school, Booker T. Washington.
The Finch Family was present and helped celebrate with students and staff by eating breakfast with the teachers and parents, volunteering in individual classrooms and speaking to the student body during the Finch Day assembly.
Descendents present included Dr. Charles Finch, Dr. Mark Finch, Ife Finch-Floyd, Kamaria Finch, Peri Finch and Rabia Finch.
Guest speakers included Georgia State Representative Rahn Mayo and Director of Emergency Management for the Children’s Hospital, Jae Brown. There was also a performance by Dance 411.
Dr. Charles Finch and Dr. Mark Finch took the opportunity to speak to the students and stress the importance of education and hard work during the assembly. William Finch instilled the importance of education in his family that is now filled with doctors, lawyers and educators that graduated from some of the nation’s top universities and colleges. The family looks to carry out his legacy by giving back to the community and sharing with others what it takes to reach a high level of success.
Dr. Charles Finch left the students with this message, “ If you make all A’s now, make them for the rest of your life. If you aren’t making all A’s, start making all A’s and keep making all A’s for the rest of your life.”
Dr. Mark Finch asked the students how many of them watch TV for at least 2 hours a day and almost every hand in the auditorium went up. He went on to express how using 2 hours of your day doing something constructive could be the outlet needed to secure a bright future.
“Do you know that if you spend 2-3 hours everyday on something… on that one thing, whether it’s playing basketball, playing tennis, reading or doing math. Did you know in 10 years you’ll be an expert at that one thing,” said Dr. Finch. “ You can be so good that people will pay you good money to do whatever it is that you’ve studied.”
In tribute, some students performed a skit while others gave touching speeches in honor of the Finch legacy. Fifth grader Justice Brooks expressed how the legacy left by Mr. William Finch has inspired him. “Inspired by William Finch as a young black man, I have decided that I too am going to be loyal to my family, be educated and create better opportunities for the people in my community, said Brooks.
Principal Evans was elated at the success of the event. She felt it was extremely beneficial to the students because it brought them a real life connection.” They learned about William Finch and his legacy and the sacrifices he made. It was important that they learned that he was a former slave that worked his way to becoming a city councilman,” said Evans. “What I want my children to realize is that It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can be successful and education is the key – which is what many of the Finch family members stressed today.”
Kamaria Finch is the founder of the “I Can Achieve” after school program at Finch. The program is in its first year and focuses on academics, tutorial and the arts. She expressed that William Finch not only inspired her, but also laid the foundation for the success of their family. “I think that William Finch getting his education and just being an inspirational person…he just passed that down to our family generation by generation and we’re still feeling the effects of that today. That one person can change the course of your family’s life,” said Finch.
The “I Can Achieve” after school program will continue for the 2014-2015 school year. For more information about I Can Achieve visit http://www.facebook.com/icanachieveinc.com.