Diallo Patterson and the Drive for Literacy

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Diallo Patterson

by Jessie Reyes

Senior Diallo Patterson is many things. He is one of the most visible and affable members of the North Springs office student mentor staff. He’s a North Springs Football Defensive Star and Offensive Tackler, as well as a track star. He is both a HOSA member and a member of the National Technology Honor Society. Next year he plans to study Agricultural and food Science  at Tuskeegee. An all-around good guy, Patterson is many things, including — a Boy Scout of America.

A lifelong Scout since his involvement as a Cub in his local pack in South Atlanta, Patterson will go before his Eagle Scout Board of Review before he finalizes his Eagle Scout project. Completion of the project and a successful review will earn him the coveted rank of Eagle. While many scouts create tangible goods for various organizations(such as school signs, structures, and walking paths), Patterson directed his energies into a book drive that would benefit children at a school, The Main Street Academy, in his home community.  The drive ran for most of February and netted an entire collection bin of books. Oracle staff member Jessie Reyes spoke with Patterson about how he came about with his unique project and why he decided to focus on students’ need for literacy.

The Oracle: What inspired you to come up with this idea?

Patterson: I used to go to this school…I walked into their media center and noticed there weren’t any books. I looked at their shelves and noticed there weren’t any. That gave me the idea to set up a drive to help that school. I can impact the kids by just doing a book drive.

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Patterson proudly displays the fruits of his labor.

The Oracle: Whom does the book drive benefit?

Patterson: It benefits elementary and middle schoolers, grades K-8 at my old school, in South Fulton, about an hour south of hear, near the airport. It was formerly in an old high school building.  Some of same teachers I had still work there, so I still have some connections. connections. My Scout troop meets there. The kids there are energetic and ready to learn. I grew up in that community, so I thought I might as well give back because someone gave back me. You want to do that when someone puts effort into you.

The Oracle: Why a book drive?

Patterson: For me, it has a bigger impact. A fence or sign lasts a little, but [helping with the] literacy rate lasts for a lifetime.

The Oracle: What inspired it?

Patterson: “A Scout is thrifty.” I was given material and a chance to use it to help people thrive. It goes with [the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” I used my relationship with the media specialist and principal at the school and with Mr. Hanson here at North Springs to get my project rolling.

The Oracle: What did you do to promote the book drive?

Patterson: I was given the idea of a contest. Mr. Zand and Ms. Graybill in the English department helped start and sponsor a contest where the first period that collected the most books would win a donut party.  I was willing to do anything to help the community, from book cartons in every classroom and a book collection in front.

The Oracle: Aside from North Springs, where else are you doing the book drive?

Patterson: In addition to the books donated here, there is an outside charter organization for my troop that donated about 50 books. We’re going to sort them all and then deliver them.

The Oracle: We saw some pretty cool books, from Harry Potter to graphic novels, to Lego building guides. How many books did you collect?

Patterson: (grinning): We got a lot of books. We got over 300 new books and at least 50 used.

The Oracle: What do you enjoy reading?

Patterson:  I read a lot of magazines and articles from The Washington Post and CNN. I want to be informed about what’s going on. I don’t watch the news on TV. I’m more of a [current events] reader over watching. I like to read because it improves spelling. I encourage reading the news over watching it.

The Oracle: What is your favorite book?

Patterson: As a kid, I read all of the Narnia books. I read a lot of comics like Spider-Man and Batman, and manga, like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach. I really liked reading The Great Gatsby in high school. Reading opened up whole new possibilities for me and furthered my imagination. I hope that it can do the same for these youth.

The Oracle: Tell us about your Scouting experience.

Patterson: I was in Scouts since I was six, all the way through now…Tiger, Bobcat, Webelos, Boy Scout. I was patrol leader in a patrol of 10.  [In fact] the patrol was the whole troop; it was so small. there were only ten of us altogether! Being a Scout is a great conversation piece. I learned skills I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, such as CPR,  changing a tire, canoeing, kayaking, rowboating, sailing, rock climbing, and caving. I built my own radio with the electronics merit badges. [Patterson earned 41 merit badges altogether.] It also really helped me work on my public speaking skills. I’m not afraid of going up to people and talking. It took me a while to there. I did the Northern Tier program in Canada, and canoed from Minnesota to Canada. I also went to camp Landoche in Florida near Orlando, North Georgia white water rapids. Scouting opened up new opportunities for me. It’s like a brotherhood.

The Oracle: Doing it since you were six is a long time. What kept you going?

Patterson: My father, brother, and cousin are Eagle Scouts. My parents instilled in me that if you start something, you finish. Quitting wasn’t an option.

Diallo Patterson goes before his Eagle Board of review next month, with his Eagle Court of Honor scheduled for July 29.

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Original Book Drive Promotion Flier

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