Ambition, advice at LHS

Published 5:40 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

Twenty businessmen visited Lakeland High School Friday morning for a little “guy talk” with 80 male students tapped to participate in the school’s annual Day of Motivation and Encouragement.

Clint Wright is one of two dozen mentors who participated in LHS’s Day of Motivation and Encouragement on Friday.

Clint Wright is one of two dozen mentors who participated in LHS’s Day of Motivation and Encouragement on Friday.

The business leaders who participated in event, organized by Lakeland’s male-mentoring program, included shipyard workers, pastors, retail managers, a state police officer and a government worker. NFL player Lyden Trail, who plays for the Washington Redskins, was one of the mentors.

The mentors and students were placed into small groups, where they discussed the importance of self-awareness, self-confidence and public perception of young men, said assistant principal Tina Paul.

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Speakers urged the students to think about how today’s actions — or lack thereof, in some cases — may impact their futures.

Growing up in a rural California town, Ronnie Goldbach, a Sam’s Club manager in Newport News, said he spent much of his childhood moving between hotel rooms because of “poor decisions” made by his father.

“That experience helped me become the person I am today,” Goldbach said. “I wish I had made more goals when I was in high school. I didn’t always make good decisions then, and it was years later that I realized it.”

He and three other Sam’s Club managers challenged students to begin thinking seriously about their futures.

“Make a plan, however basic it may be,” Scott Fitzgerald said. “Think five years down the road. What do you want to be doing and how do you plan to do it?”

From some mentors, the advice was more direct.

“If you have a 2.0 grade point average, don’t be ashamed. Change it,” said Sterling Coker, who works for Anthem Inc.

“Forget the women. Put on a belt. Stay focused on what you are doing. And remember, from a perception standpoint, you guys are who you are hanging out with.”

Change isn’t always easy, said Doug Knight, who works at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

“It doesn’t happen overnight … and it’s going to be up to you to decide if you want to change,” Knight said. “You will have to change your mentality.”