Last week, music promoter/businessman Julius Lewis (right) added to his $50,000 donation to Cummings K-8 Optional School with musical performances, including one by Lenny Williams (left). (Courtesy photo)

Julius Lewis, the owner of Pure Entertainment Group, remembers how extracurricular activities enriched his formative years at Cummings Elementary School. He also understands that public schools don’t always have the funding to offer students the opportunities he enjoyed.

Cummings Elementary has transitioned into Cummings K-8 Optional School and last week (Aug. 10) Lewis was back on familiar ground with a $50,000 check in hand. Amid cheers and screams, he presented the gift that was designated to address three funding areas: the band program, the athletic department, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program.

“I attended Cummings when it was Cummings Elementary School, grades K-6,” said Lewis. “My classroom learning was enhanced because I participated in additional activities. Those experiences gave me a strong foundation in building good character. I want these students to be exposed to the same great opportunities.”

“Most of the donation will go to reviving the band program,” said Lewis.

“Every school should have a band. Music is the universal language. Everyone loves music, and learning to play an instrument can take a child far. Students learn discipline and the importance of practice. Doing anything well takes practice. These are life lessons.”

On Monday, students, staff and administrators got a fresh lesson in how life and routine can get twisted. The collapse of ceiling tiles in the library injured three staffers, including the librarian. Students will be rerouted to nearby LaRose Elementary pending an assessment of the school building’s structure.

As for Lewis’ gift, Athletic Director Trey Ford said it would be a big boost to this year’s sports season.

“Last year was very challenging for our athletes who wanted to be competitive, but did not have the proper gear to truly excel,” said Ford.

“This very generous gift changes everything. The ability to properly outfit our students will help them reach their full potential. The season is looking better already.”

Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board Chair Michelle R. McKissack, brought on more cheers when she pledged an additional $20,000 to Cummings K-8, the newest school in her district, following the County Commission’s recent rezoning.

Dwana McGuire

Cummings Principal Dwana McGuire expressed excitement about what the donation will mean for the STEM Program.

More supplies and equipment will “enhance the learning experience for our students,” said McGuire.

Lewis delighted students and staff with some old-school vibes when Melvia “Chick” Rodgers and Lenny Williams performed. Students clapped and danced as the two recording artists staged a spectacular show.

Melvia “Chick” Rodgers at Cummings K-8 Optional School, where she performed as part of a gift presentation by Julius Lewis, a Cummings Elementary School alum. (Courtesy photo)

Pure Entertainment Group (PEG) works with a number of big-name artists, including Master P, Snoop Dogg, Cardi B, Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton, Katt Williams, Mike Epps, Rickey Smiley, and DL Hugley.

PEG is also in its 15th year of hosting the widely popular, 25-stop “The Blues is Alright Tour.”

Lewis’ $50,000 donation was his second to Cummings, following a $50,000 gift in 2007.

Rodgers and Williams closed the school concert with Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.”

Lewis said the song expresses the sentiment of his heart.

“I truly love Cummings, and I will always be a Cummings Eagle,” said Lewis. “My school can count on me to always be there. Cummings can always lean on me.”

Lewis graduated from Central High School and went on to earn a business degree from LeMoyne Owen College. From a young age, he aspired to build a business that promoted and produced live shows.

His love of music and the entertainment industry led him to form his own LLC. Immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree, Lewis began building his brand, pulling together shows and events that got him noticed. The 27-year-old company now enjoys phenomenal success, booking top recording artists and comedians.

“If it had not been for Cummings, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Lewis.