Expecting to see leaders

Published 11:14 pm Saturday, October 7, 2017

For one group of young men at King’s Fork Middle School, success starts with having the right attitude, and that starts with dressing in a way that sets them apart from the other young men in that school.

For members of the KFMS Young Men of Pride club, getting dressed for the day often involves tying a necktie, and a day at school could well include receiving a lesson on etiquette or hearing a speaker discuss the need to set goals.

The dress code is all about setting expectations within their own minds, the lessons are about teaching important social skills they might not otherwise learn and the speeches are about exposing them to challenging ideas from people whose success gives them credibility with the youth.

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“If you look good, you’re going to feel good, and if you feel good, then you’re going to act good,” Assistant Principal Roosevelt Brown said. “It all ties together.”

Yes, it does all tie together, and Brown and fellow Assistant Principal Steve Smith have done a fantastic job getting their young charges to see the connections since they founded the Young Men of Pride in 2014.

The club has grown from about 16 applicants in its first year to 32 this school year. Male teachers at the school have come to appreciate the club as they see its activities, and some have even signed up their own children, according to Smith.

Studies have revealed that middle school is a pivotal time in the lives of youth — and, perhaps, especially for young men. Kids that begin to veer from the path in middle school are at risk of going completely off the rails in high school. Dropout rates in high school have been shown to have solid connections to failure rates in middle school.

The stakes are high for these youth, and the Young Men of Pride club, along with the sister group, Young Ladies of Distinction, seeks to reach in and tilt the scales in their favor.

We see it as a positive development that this club has doubled in size since its formation, and we hope to continue to see it grow through the years. We have every expectation of seeing some of today’s young members in leadership positions one day in Suffolk government, business and community organizations.