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BY JUSTIN HALL. THE DAILY IBERIAN

Community activist Will Berry aims to “motivate each student to higher academics” during the long, hot summer months by having them come to the new West End Skills and Tutoring Center, located at the Sheriff’s Outreach Center at the corner of Hopkins and Robertson streets.

outreach-centerThe center houses a nonprofit organization run by Berry and designed to help Iberia Parish high school students with what Berry calls the three pillars of education: Reading skills, writing skills and math skills.

Berry said the center opens Monday and will run Monday through Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. during the summer months. The idea already has the support of Iberia Parish Superintendent of Schools Dale Henderson, who said it was essential to bridge that gap for all students between school years.

“Oftentimes we realize some regression amongst students, ” Henderson said. “To have this is extremely, extremely important.”

Henderson also said the school district is doing everything it can to help Berry, including giving him materials and coordinating curriculums to make sure students get the education they need.

“It is just such a wonderful opportunity, ” Henderson said.

Berry’s group was one of many to appear Thursday night at the outreach center’s open house featuring many of the groups that call the center home. The center is operated and funded by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Dozens of West End residents, local government officials and Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies took advantage of the opportunity to mingle and learn about the programs offered at the center.

“So many different things happen inside this building, ” Sgt. Kevin Kately said. “It’s for a good purpose.”

Kately is one of five deputies stationed at the outreach center, designated to help out in the community and get to know the residents of the Hopkins Street community.

“Our job is to mainly go out in the parish, go out in the community and hear their (residents’) complaints, ” Kately said.

Berry said the open house was a great chance for everyone to come together and see the efforts being made on the West End to better the lives of the residents there.

“We are standing on their shoulders tonight, ladies and gentlemen, to make new history on Hopkins Street, ” Berry said.