• Finding a Future in Examining the Past

     Molefi Henderson looks through a magnifying glass

    STUDENT: Molefi Henderson

    SCHOOL: Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy

    COLLEGE: East Carolina University

    May 21, 2018

    (This is the first in a number of profiles of outstanding and interesting members of the Wake County Public School System Class of 2018 that will appear over the next several weeks.)

    The brotherhood Molefi Henderson found at the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy pushed him to excel.

    Academy students complete their high school work early, so they can begin earning college credit at St. Augustine’s University. Henderson has earned more than 70 college credit hours, the most of any Academy student.

    Henderson had little interest in studying when he first entered high school. His sister encouraged him to consider the Academy.

    “Molefi is the person the academy was created to serve and he took advantage of all we had to offer,” said principal Ian Solomon.

    Henderson loves the Academy, the challenge of playing chess and investigating other cultures.


    Seeking Ways to Help Students Excel

    The school features small, intimate classes. Teachers take time working with students and finding ways to help them excel. At every turn, Henderson beams his big smile and teachers light up to see him and offer praise for his work. He looks forward to representing the school at the annual magnet fair so he can help people understand what it did for him.

    That’s also what drives him to mentor young students. Students can enroll in the school in sixth grade. They can continue to take advantage of the early college program for a super senior year, a 13th year in school.

    “Molefi really benefitted from being part of a small class environment,” said Stuart Gordon, a WYMLA math teacher. “I remember when I taught him in Math III, we had only 10 students in the room. His personality and his energy helped drive that class.”

    Molefi is the youngest in his family, and chess was a way he connected with his older brothers. He was excited to find the chess club when he arrived at the Academy. He still joins in club meetings, helping to build the skills of younger players.

    “He did a great job as a sparring partner,” said Allen Strader, a WYMLA teacher and the chess club advisor. “We have a lot of beginning chess players. Moleffi helps them play up to his level.”

    Interests Lead to Pursuing Archaeology

    Henderson spends most of his time attending class at St Augustine’s and has close ties with professors there. His studies led him to an interest in how people live, both today and in the past. He serves as an intern in the Office of State Archaeology in the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. He was able to do some work onsite near the end of April sifting through dirt to find artifacts. That was a change from his normal paperwork duties.

    “I fell in love with the whole concept of the way people do and act and move and speak and react,” said Henderson. “There’s a lot we can deduce from that. And we can take those things and try to make our society better.”

    Henderson plans to attend East Carolina University and is looking forward to continuing his work in archaeology. The university is known for its Queen’s Anne Revenge Conservation Lab, where Moelfi hopes to join in documenting items left by the pirate Blackbeard when his ship wrecked in 1718 in waters near Beaufort.