Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer
The Officer and Gentlemen Academy, a program that connects Evanston boys with police officer mentors, kicked off its second year at an event on Saturday.
The program provides middle school boys with a role model, said Adam Howard, an Evanston police officer and a program mentor. The Evanston Police Department partnered with Evanston/Skokie School District 65 to create the program in 2017. The event, hosted by EPD and Curt’s Cafe at the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, featured mentors as speakers and introduced this year’s program participants.
Howard founded the program “to inspire young men to reach their full potential.” Howard said he felt compelled to create the program because of his lack of strong male role models growing up.
“A positive male figure in your life can teach you the right way,” Howard said.
Howard said the 12-week program includes a variety of activities and lessons designed to help students learn etiquette and social skills. The program also included fun events, Howard said.
Last year, Howard said participants learned how to tie ties, met Evanston business owners, went to Six Flags and attended a formal dinner with women from the Evanston area who gave feedback on their manners.
The program will expand to 16 kids from last year’s 12 and will include two previous graduates of the program as assistants to the mentors, said Mario Miller, an officer and program mentor
The program will include three four-week semesters, focusing on financial literacy, the criminal justice system, and federal and state law. During the program, the mentees will meet with local businessmen and law enforcement officials, Miller said.
“We want to give these young men something so that they can create what they need to be successful for the rest of their lives,” Miller said.
During the presentation, the announcers presented the boys who will be going through the program this year. Participants attend Nichols Middle School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, Haven Middle School, Chute Middle School and Evanston Township High School.
Academy mentor Ken Carter, an EPD detective, said the Academy’s focus on training boys to be gentlemen is particularly important. He said although he had a lack of positive role models in the beginning of his life, once he “began spending time with positive men, men who looked like me,” he became much more confident and gained “the skills I needed for later in life.”
“We must work together to have difficult conversations, to have discussions about gangs, to make sure we provide a safe environment for these young men, and make sure we put them on the right path for life,” Carter said.
A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Officer Adam Howard. The quote has been removed. The article also incorrectly stated the schools that are involved with the program. The schools are Nichols Middle School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, Chute Middle School, Haven Middle School and Evanston Township High School. The Daily regrets the errors.
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