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Male mentor program impacting students at Diggs-Latham Elementary School

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A lot of schools in the Piedmont Triad have programs aimed at helping students make good choices both at school and at home, but an elementary school in Winston-Salem is doing something a little different.

“We are a high poverty school, so we struggle a little bit. Our kids come in two years behind grade level, but that doesn't stop us,” said Donna Marie Cannon, principal of Diggs-Latham Elementary School.

The school has teamed up with members of the A.H. Anderson High School Alumni Association to create a male mentoring program, which gives students someone to look up to. Many of the mentors attended Diggs Elementary School in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We want to instill in the kids a sense of belonging. All too often these young men don't have a sense of belonging because they're estranged from their fathers,” said Quamin Finney, a male mentor who went to Diggs Elementary when he was 11 years old.

The 12 students in the program are in 2nd through 5th grade. They were recommended by teachers, because they need a little extra attention.

“Our idea and our hope is to help them have a better life,” said Bob Wilson, a mentor.

Mentors talk to students about everything from bullying to being financially responsible. Teachers say they already see positive changes in the students involved.

“You don't know how much of an impact you're making right away, until you see their face every Friday when he knows that I'm here,” said James McCants, a mentor who attended Diggs Elementary School in 1957.

Being back in school is impacting the 12 mentors too.

“It gives me a sense of belonging as well. These are my boys,” said Finney.