Oprah Winfrey donated half a million dollars to help keep “Lights On” at a Newark, New Jersey high school that their Principal, Akbar Cook conducted. Principal Akbar Cook help improved many of his students’ lives when he opened the West Side High School in Newark. The program was created to keep students off the streets by providing them a safe place to hang out and chill on Friday nights until 11 p.m. The students can play pool, video games, practice cheerleading and record tracks in the music studio.
“I haven’t lost any more kids to gun violence since the start of the school year.” Principal Akbar Cook said in April.
He says the results can’t or will not be ignored. Summer 2018, Cook installed a laundry room in the school because students were being bullied for wearing unclean clothes. Since then there has been a ten percent increase in daily attendance. Oprah then surprised Cook and almost four hundred of the students last Friday evening, and pledged $500,000 to assist in funding the program.
“So I heard about West Side and all the great things that are happening here. So I’m going to leave here tonight and leave you with a half a million dollars”. Winfrey told the students.
“I think we really put the microscope on basic needs of kids. Everyone wants the high test scores, everyone wants them to perform well. But if the kid doesn’t feel confidence in just coming to school, being that person we know they can be, then what are we doing,” Principal Cook said.