Dozens of sharp-dressed young men from East and West middle schools met up to learn about each other and from positive role models in the community.

The Men of Honor Club at West Middle and the Gentlemen’s League of East Middle teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys how to be upstanding men in their community.

“We talk about how to be respectful and how to be a gentleman and what it takes to really grow up and be that image that is expected of a male,” said instructor Chris Galiszeweski. “We try to lead by example. As much as we teach them, we give them personal examples.”

Boys in each group are expected to wear a dress shirt and tie for their meetings, and if they don’t have one, one is provided for them. They recently held a joint meeting of both groups to get to know each other.

“One thing we stress too is respecting women,” said Galiszeweski. “It’s a great thing, and we hope they get something out of it. It’s a lot of fun. I like being able to talk with kids outside of the classroom. We are free to have a casual conversation.”

Sixth-grader Bradin Sheppard said the guys in his group take the lessons seriously that he learns from the Gentlemen’s League.

“We have learned how to respect ladies especially and different things about what to do and what not to do,” he said. “And we dress up. We enjoy being around our friends and learning together. We do a lot of group work too. We learn what respect is and we will know it in the future.”

Carlos Magana, a sixth-grader at East said this group is looking to the future.

“We will prepared when we go out in the world and treat other people like we would want to be treated, and to be a good person,” he said.

Although this is the first year of the Gentlemen’s League at East Middle, the Men of Honor club is in its fourth year at West Middle.

“What we wanted when we first started Men of Honor was for it to be a countywide thing,” said teacher Michael Caparaso. “Watching to see them grow as young men and individuals is what we are going for and hopefully it carries over into the classroom.”

Caparaso said they are starting to reach out to fifth graders to get them interested, and the Men of Honor mentor third-graders at West Marion and P.G. elementary schools.

“They are really good with the third-graders,” he said. “We have gotten some emails from kids at the high school. Our first class of sixth-graders are now freshmen. They actually emailed about getting a club started at the high school.”

Once the clubs spent time getting to know each other, they gathered in the auditorium where they heard talks from Brian Oliver, executive director of administration at McDowell County Schools; Mark Garrett, superintendent of McDowell County Schools; and Sheriff Ricky Buchanan.

“Every time you make a bad choice in life, you limit your opportunities,” Oliver said. “Listen to the people in your life who care about you.”

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