December Core Focus Challenge- 2011

December's Core Focus is dating/ dining etiquette. The core focus challenge has two parts:

1) Write a brief, accurate definition of each word below. If the word has multiple meanings, use the one that best relates to this month's core focus. Use each word in a sentence that demonstrates you understand how it should be used as related to this month's core focus.
Note: Some online dictionaries also have a feature that allow you to hear how a word is pronounced! =)
1. a la carte
2. al dente
3. baste
4. bon appetite
5. chivalry
6. condiment
7. courteous
8. cuisine
9. entrée’
10. epicure
11. etiquette
12. filet
13. fillet
14. garnish
15. gentleman
16. gourmet
17. gratuity
18. hors d’oeuvres
19. lady
20. maître d’
21. palate
22. prix fixe
23. refined
24. RSVP
25. uncouth

2) Invite an escort to join you for ROPP Nite Out. The escort should be a young lady/ gentleman that is considered to carry themselves in a respectable manner. During the evening you will be observed for how well you demonstrate the fine dining skills you were taught. Areas that will be evaluated:
- Dress code adherence (sent in an email)
- Demeanor (no horseplay or excessive silliness)
- Conversation (appropriate subjects, volume)
- Table Etiquette (use of utensils, napkins, chewing, etc)
- Manners (chivalry, "Please", "Thank you", etc)
- Balance (have fun too!)

ROPP Night Out is co-sponsored by The Galaxy Cafe. They have agreed to create a fine dining atmosphere just for us! Please visit them when you can and pass on appreciation for supporting our organization!

The Pact Impact

                                   CLICK ON EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE IF NECESSARY.


November Core Focus

The Core Focus for November was about setting goals and helping each other reach them.

ROPP Candidates watched The Pact, a documentary about 3 young men from Newark, NJ. Sampson, Rameck and George, despite coming from very challenging backgrounds, made a decision to work together to make it through medical school. They did it. Two are physicians and one is a dentist. ROPP candidates discussed how their story impacted their personal commitments to their goals.
 Candidate Imani, who plans to become a pediatrician, was inspired by their focus against the odds (only 6% of new medical students are black males!)
Candidate Jabari said while watching the film,  he was thinking about how important your choice of friends is to reaching your goals and staying positive.
Candidate Quincy said watching the three doctors motivates him to fight harder against the distractions he knows he will face.
Sis. Yolanda pointed out to the boys how attractive men in suits look and how favorably the world responds to you when you are well-dressed. She point out that sharp clothing can convey power and a sense of importance that can make a difference.
Sis. Deborah reminded the candidates of Malique, the young narrator in the film, whose father left after his younger sister was born with a severe disability. She encouraged the candidates to think about how God provides alternate resources in our lives when there is a void. However, she pointed out, we have to recognize the resources and take advantage of them, as Malique did with his relationship with the three doctors.
Sis. LeBerta talked about her career in the medical field and how few black people are in any medical capacity outside of nursing. She encouraged the candidates to explore the wide range of occupations related to saving lives.
The candidates took a pop quiz over the documentary, and Candidate DY won $5 for being the only one to get ALL the answers correct. Congratulations, DY! Everyone came close, though!

Candidates received their November Core Focus project for the month, which was a set of 5 short essay questions related to The Pact. Assignment: Answer each question, using at least 100 words.

1. Who were the people that made a positive difference in the lives of the three doctors? What did they do that helped? Who can you identify in your life that is a positive influence? How can you connect to their help to be successful?

2. How did peer pressure impact George , Sampson and Rameck? How did they keep the pact alive despite peer pressure? How does peer pressure affect you?

3. Rameck's grandmother made him give back money once when she found out his mother used it to pay the utility bill rather than for the portfolio pictures for which it was intended. "You can't help nobody til you help yourself," she said. Do you agree with her philosophy in this case? Why or why not?

4. In the book The Pact, Sampson said that a lot of teachers "...just didn't know how to reach us and didn't seem to care. They expected and accepted mediocrity and, unfortunately, we usually gave them no more." Who is to blame for this situation and why?

5. How do you feel overall about the story of the three doctors? If anything, what will you do differently as a result of seeing it?

DUE DATE: November 30th. 11:59 PM.

At the last group visit to the Blackshear community garden, Candidate Diante suggested making a scarecrow for the garden. So, in addition to watching the documentary on Saturday, ROPP candidates made a scarecrow that will be taken to the garden.

Candidates also created garden plot markers to identify who owns each section of the garden and hopefully discourage people from taking produce that doesn't belong to them. The markers were delivered after church the next day, and Caitlin, the garden manager, said they were awesome!
Candidates also signed "thank you" cards for all the donations that were received at the 2011 ROPP Quiz Bowl...and ate nachos...lots of nachos.

It was a busy, yet fun-filled day! Which is how we ROPP and Roll...


Congratulations to Jabari Davis and D'Wazauhn Washington for being the first ROPP Scholastic Quiz Bowl Champions!

Jabari and DY partnered up to earn the most points among the three teams of ROPP candidates in the quiz bowl held on October 29th.This trophy will be placed in the Metropolitan trophy case, to be admired for generations to come!

Kudos are deserved by all six candidates for displaying dedication, preparation and awesome team spirit throughout the quiz bowl process. Thanks for setting the bar high for next year's candidates!

2011 ROPP Scholastic Quiz Bowl!!!

It's coming! It's almost here!!!

The 2011 ROPP Scholastic Quiz Bowl Fundraiser
Saturday, October 29, 2011-  4:00 PM
Metropolitan AME Church
1101 E. 10th Street
Austin, Texas 78702

The 2011-2012 ROPP Candidates will compete to answer questions on a wide range of topics:
Astronomy!  Geography!  Religion!  US Capitals!  Science!  Music!   Pop Culture!

Who can hit the buzzer first??
Tell your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues to come witness the First ROPP Scholastic Quiz Bowl and cheer on the candidates! Free to get in! Donations gladly accepted!


Jbro and Tiger make up the husband-wife hip hop duo, RAS (Riders Against the Storm). Together, this duo intends to travel the globe using music and art as a vehicle for upliftment, social change and sustainable living.

Visit their website and be inspired:

Let's Talk About It

October 2011 Core Focus Day was dedicated to talking to one another about sexual health and responsibility, and what it means to be a young Christian facing sexual pressure. The Ballages graciously opened their home to the candidates and our guests and the conversation covered a wide range of topics related to sex, health, peer pressure, self-esteem, values, and life planning.
Kudos to the candidates for being open to giving and receiving sincere feedback. We learned and grew from each others' sharing. The candidates' new big brothers from the Delta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Huston Tillotson provided welcomed real talk to the discussion. We spoke in a safe environment.
One candidate said, "What struck me from today's conversation is that it's okay to wait until I am sure the time is right for me to become sexually active. I don't have to give in to the pressure I get from all around me." Yes! God is good.

Here are a few pics from the day:

A Fresh Drink...

Candidate Diante stopped by the garden to water the seeds planted by the other candidates.

We learned that the beds in the community section are not part of the irrigation system and have to be manually watered! Eeeek! In order to save them, we will have to find a way to get them watered frequently.
Anytime you are in the area, feel free to stop by, grab the water bucket and saturate the four front beds.
We will ask how to operate the hose as I'm sure that will make it easier!
Luckily for Diante, he had some help:

Watch Them Grow...

After hearing from the community garden coordinator that some of our seeds had sprouted, several ROPP candidates stopped by the garden to see what was (literally) up!

Diggin' In

Four ROPP Candidates visited the Blackshear Community Garden together after church yesterday. After taking a moment to check out the place (including the roosters and hens out back), they jumped on in and made quite a difference in their two hours!

There are leftover cabbage, beet, spinach and cilantro seeds from their trip, so let us know if you'd like to plant some in the remaining space of the garden.

Here are a few pics:

it'S aLL aCAdeMic!!

September's Core Focus Day was an enlightening cruise through the halls of academia. ROPP candidates visited two local universities, UT and HT, and received first-hand "real talk" about what it's like to transition into college life at both campuses. Over and over, they heard that they will be required to do a lot of reading!
Challenges will be managing their own time and developing good study habits-all while being sure to take advantage of the full social life waiting for them.

The gentlemen from Huston-Tillotson University, Bro. Dr. Eric's A Phi A fraternity brothers, represent the chapter with the highest GPA in the region! They each had amazing stories to tell about their humble beginnings and how they have been able to meet personal challenges and failures. Despite coming from crime-ridden environments where failure is common, dyslexia, slow academic progress and other challenges, all of the brothers will be graduating with honors this year!

The ladies from The University of Texas at Austin were distinguished Delta Sigma Theta sorors. They, too, shared how they simply had to dig inside to find the strength and determination to success against their challenges. One young lady went to a very poor school, with gangs and high drop-out rates, that was constantly under threat of closure and loss of accreditation. She perservered and studied hard and was still well-prepared for her first year of college. Another thought she was prepared since she took AP courses in school, but found herself completely unprepared to study properly and manage her time. After struggling her first two years, she stands ready to graduate this spring with a 3.2 GPA.

Special thanks to Bro. Dr. Eric for facilitating September's Core Focus Day! It was awesome!

September's Core Focus Challenge requires ROPP candidates to explore two different approaches to higher education pursuits. Here is the link to the Core Focus Challenge:  SEPT CORE FOCUS CHALLENGE, which the candidates received earlier this month. As always, it is due by midnight on the last day of the month!


Three ROPP Candidates and their mentors met up for dinner and conversation. Here are a few snapshots taken when Sis. Lisa crashed the party...for just a few minutes!
Sis. LeBerta was there, too, but not when the camera was out!

 Hey! It's the birthday boy!
Diante agreed to spend part of his birthday getting to know his new mentor, Bro. Milton!

 Quincy (rear), Diante and DY get ready to chow down!

Bro. Ken, Bro. Anthony and Bro. Milton
Bro. Anthony's eating so fast he's a blur!! LOL

Do you have any pictures from when you were with your mentor? We want to see them!
Email them to

Doesn't take Long

This morning, ROPP Candidate Jabari and his mother, Sis. Lisa, headed over to the community garden.
Here are some pictures and a testimony of how much of a difference we can make in a short period of time!

This is part of the row Sis. Lisa tackled. There was hardly any viable plant life on the row. It was overtaken by weeds and needed to be prepared for fall planting.

This row of tomato plants took a beating in the brutal heat and needed to removed so that new plants could be sown there.

And so, Jabari gets busy. He decided today's contribution will be clearing "tomato row" of all the dead tomato plants and as many weeds as possible. He was able to put much of his grandfather's gardening advice to work: 1) Your hands work better than hand tools for weeding. 2) Be sure to pull the root completely out or it'll just come right back. 3) Stomp the pulled weeds flat and spread them to create a foot path.

Voila! The weedy row is looking much better. Mother Nature said "thank you" for helping her "represent" well. =)

A side view of a cleared out "tomato row." Nice work. The vines Jabari left on the posts bear a lovely lavender blossom that make the garden pretty.

Finally! Well-earned rest. Jabari admitted he was reluctant to go work in the garden, but said afterwards that "it felt good, like working in my own back yard. I was relaxed."

What has your experience been like? Send us your pics when you work in the garden or do community service. We learn from each others' experiences! Send pics to:!

Core Focus Day- AUGUST 2011

The Core Focus for August is RELIGION.
During this month our objective is to learn more about our Christian faith and AME denomination.We are also exploring how we are the same as and different from other religious beliefs and practices in the world.

ROPP Candidates were given two books for their review this month.
One, Politics in the Pews, was written by our own Bro.Dr. Eric. He explained to ROPP Candidates that he studied what factors contributed to some churches participating in politics while others did not.
The second text, An Introduction to Black Church History, will be the primary resource for this month's Core Focus Challenge. ROPP Candidates have been assigned sections as required reading. While they are encouraged to read as much of the book as they can, their assigned section will be the part upon which this month's challenge will be based.

Candidates must choose two out of three of the following:
  • A written report
  • A PowerPoint presentation
  • A work of art
A link to the assignment document may be found here: "August Core Focus Assignment".

The day began with a discussion of the AME version of the Apostle's Creed. Candidates reviewed the major principles in the Creed and recited it together. Afterwards, candidates visited the Nueces Mosque, where they were given a tour of the facility by college students, Pari and Danya, and an overview of Muslim faith and practices by the Imam. Everyone agreed that the hosts were exceptionally nice and they were very well prepared for us, with literature, snacks/water and a very open door policy.
Next, the candidates visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, where several youth leaders, their director and Deacon Mario hosted a discussion about life as young Catholics. Several of the young adults gave testimonies about how reluctant they were to get "connected" with God, and how they are now so excited to do His work, through conferences, Sunday School, etc.

Deacon Mario shared a summary of the church's history, which began west of I-35 in 1907.The Hispanic congregants were told by the city they had to move east of 35, similar to the fate of Metropolitan! He shared the passionate tale of the procession of the whole congregation from 3rd Street and Trinity to the current location, children and adults carrying the lumber and supplies from the old location to the new. A child, he said, carried a sculpture of a bleeding Jesus, who Hispanic Catholics frequently use to remind themselves how Jesus can relate to their personal suffering. The sculpture is located near the front of the ornate, modern sanctuary that is now located close to Metropolitan at 1206 E.9th Street.