Going in the right direction

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Last Wednesday morning, I was up at King’s Fork Middle School for an initiation ceremony for the Young Men of Direction.

And as I was sitting there, waiting for the ceremony to begin, I began to wonder what the fuss was all about.

I mean, what was different about the Young Men of Direction compared to any other service group like the National Junior Honor Society or the Ruriteens?

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I was so sure that this event was no more special than any other club’s initiation that I spent a few minutes wondering how I was going to explain to my boss that I wasted my morning at a rather meaningless event.

But as the ceremony began, I found that there were quite a few differences with Young Men of Direction.

In this auditorium were more than 60 sixth and seventh graders, and each was dressed in shirt and tie. When the program began, they boys were so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. The officers of the club spoke in front of their peers, both with excellent speaking skills and a genuine interest in their club’s future.

After the initiation, I went backstage to meet some of the young men and, again, I was impressed.

These 11- and 12-year-old guys walked right up to me, shook my hand and introduced themselves while thanking me for coming to their event.

Whenever I asked a question, each was thoughtful in their responses and took his time to answer.

Truly the only annoying part was when two of them kept referring to me as Ms. Wicks. As respectful as it is, I’m 24, guys. We can knock off that “Ms.” Stuff.

Making me feel like I’m 75 aside, these young men were impressive.

These kids are passionate about making a difference, and about not getting sucked into an all-too prevalent world of gangs, drugs and academic failure.

Hearing how eloquent and outgoing these young men were, I was excited to see how much more this organization would grow and encourage these young men.

The club’s advisor, Jamie Curran, said the biggest goal the club has now is to find more partnerships in the community, to provide these guys with more mentors and role models.

So, if you find yourself tired of the headlines and crime reports from within your community and you want them to stop, call Ms. Curran and ask how you can help these guys make an actual change.