MOULTRIE -- The Male League and Big Brother (MLBB) after-school program at Cox Elementary won its second consecutive championship June 26 at the annual Georgia Youth Conference at Milledgeville.

Keith Hose, director of MLBB, said there were youth groups from across the state, and it was very exciting to leave as back-to-back champions. He led a group of 10 boys from Cox Elementary and C.A. Gray Middle schools in the competition, which included public speaking, arts and crafts and a talent contest.

The MLBB has been in existence for two years, and Hose said it has grown to 21 boys from last year's 15. Hose said the group keeps him busy, but he's glad to have a good influence on the members.

"It's good to touch the lives of kids in a positive way," he said.

The boys involved have made it less like an after-school program and more like a family, Hose said. The group was started for African-American boys but it has already become more diverse.

Two of the students who attended the Youth Conference said the group has had a very positive impact on them. Elijah Alexander said it sets a good example for kids and helps him stay off the streets and drugs. His brother, Rakeem, said he was glad to be a part of MLBB because it keeps him out of trouble.

With the support of Colquitt County Superintendent Leonard McCoy, Cox Elementary Principal Jewell Howard and parents, Hose said MLBB has been able to visit other elementary schools and make field trips to places like Albany.

Hose said he sets very high expectations for the boys at MLBB, with a focus on academics. He expects the boys to "excel inside and outside the classroom."

MLBB runs during the school year Monday through Thursday, Hose said. He is preparing to get the third year started up Monday after the school day at Cox Elementary.

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