ROCKFORD (WREX) — The first day of school is a new beginning. It's also a way for students and parents to learn what the year will bring. That's why Kikifer's Entrepreneurial Academy gave students a musical welcome back for the first day.
Co-founder and School Board Executive Director Keishonda Williamson says she wanted to show students and parents the village it takes to raise a child.
"We can put water on these seeds and see how they come out of the soil," said one community leader when speaking at the morning assembly.
KEA is showing its students that people who look like them are here, investing and supporting in their success.
All KEA students repeated and yelled out the school pledge, "I am wise! I am beautiful!"
"They literally are our future. Twenty years from now they are going to be running this city, this state, running this country," said Williamson. "If we don't pour into them right now, if we don't pour into them today, than we have no reason to complain about what our future holds for us."
The black owned private school may have just opened in 2019, but each year enrollment soars. So much so, that the school has had three different locations to accommodate for space and even added a virtual school for students across the country.
"I thought we would stay above our beauty supply store a year or two," said Williamson when thinking about where the school first started. "To see us grow to the point where we can hire staff and that staff is now implementing the curriculum in the system is wonderful, is awesome. It gives me chills to think where we can be two years from now."
Two Rockford hip-hop artists wanted to show the kids that hard work does pay off even when faced with challenges.
"For me, it's just kind of like a warm feeling. Like I was sitting in those same chairs at some point in time," said Evan B3E with JoAnZ & B3E.
"A rose can bloom in the dark, a flower can bloom in the dark," said KJ JoAnz with JoAnz & B3E. "Show them that Rockford and Milwaukee are two cities where [there's] lots of diamonds in the rough and you just got to find them."
Kikifer's is committed to finding and building up those diamonds in whatever they want to do in life.
"To have 80 published authors in this community all under the age of 18, that's going to be ground breaking," said Williamson.
KEA gained the Illinois State Board of Education seal of approval this past April. This school will be participating in IHSA sports for the first time this fall.