Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Master P, Lil Romeo at Monroe Middle graduation
“You’re the future of our country. You’re the leaders of tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to change. You can be whatever you decide to be. Keep that vision. Keep that determination. It’s okay to say no to drugs. You don’t have to be in gangs. Get education under your belt, you can do anything. You can follow your dreams.”
This was the message given by rapper Percy Miller – also known as Master P, at the eighth-grade (Friday, June 6, 2008) graduation at Monroe Middle School, also bringing his son, Lil Romeo, to perform a brief concert.
Master P, a hip-hop icon, made a promise to students during a surprise September 13, 2007, visit to Monroe Middle School saying he would return if students did well academically. He also promised to bring his son, Lil Romeo, a successful rapper in his own right.
Staying good to his word, Master P served as the keynote speaker during the 9 am ceremony. Miller said he was filming a movie in California, and stopped production so he could come to Monroe Middle School’s graduation.
“I’m very proud of you,” he told students. “You’ve taken the first step. Education is so important. I came from the streets, but I was able to change my life. I was able to change my life because I wasn’t afraid to further my education. Go out and find yourselves. Find your dreams. This is such a great school to be at.”
The screams of hundreds of excited students at Miller’s arrival illustrated his popularity. Those screams only intensified when he announced the arrival of his son, Lil Romeo, who will be going to USC in the near future, majoring in film and business.
Romeo also offered encouraging words to the middle school students, stressing the importance of staying in school, getting a good education and saying no to drugs and gangs. After shaking the hand of every graduating eighth-grader, he sang for students.
“I’m the oldest of three brothers and three sisters, so anytime I can give back to kids, I’m feeling good about that,” he said after his performance. “I feel really blessed to be able to give back to these students. This is the future here. To see that people really do care about them really boosts their self esteem.”
One by one students filed passed Romeo after their name was called for graduation, many with nervous smiles as they shook his hand. “I was so happy, I was shaking,” said 14-year-old Samyra Blakeney, daughter of Vadia and Robert Smith of Monroe. “It was very nice of them to come here from California. They didn’t have to do that. It shows me that other people care and think we’re important, even if we don’t think they do.”
Monroe Middle principal Montrio Belton said the message to students was clear – they are important and keeping your word is important. “Beyond the concert, I hope people see that Percy Miller is a man of integrity, a man of his word. And I hope that’s the message in this; as our students grow up, they will become people of integrity, people of their word.”
Miller speaks to youth around the country, stressing the importance of education, speaking out against violence, drugs and gangs with his program called, Let the Kids Grow. “I’m here to show kids you can break cycles. I was able to come from a community where people were known for selling drugs and being in gangs.”
As for taking the time to come to Monroe, Miller said, “Life is not just about making money. Life is about what you do and what you give back. I love to see these kids smile. I learned a valuable lesson. Money is a tool you use; you love people.
Belton said he is proud of his students and the school. “Monroe Middle School is the best school in Union County and North Carolina and now these students are beginning to believe they’re special. That’s why we’re actualizing so much success because the students and parents believe they can be successful.”
Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Jun 06, 2008 by Deb Coates Bledsoe