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Boys with a Purpose starts at Green Meadows

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HELPING HAND: Frankfort Police Officer Rob Hession helps teach, from left,Steve Matthews and Braiden Coy how to wear a tie.
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TIE TRAINING: Green Meadows fifth-graders, from left,Cameron Zheng, Jack Michael and Josiah Creasy-Perry learn how to put a tie on from fifth-grade teacher Josh Marshall during Wednesday's first Boys with a Purpose meeting.
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NICE TIE: Adolfo Valdes-Mejia is all smiles after being one of the first Boys with a Purpose members to get his tie on correctly. Valdes-Mejia then went around the room to offer his help to the other boys.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

Inspired by the work of a pair of teachers in South Carolina, Green Meadows Intermediate School fifth-grader teachers Josh Marshall and Will Griffin decided to start their own “Boys with a Purpose” club within their school.

With the help of Frankfort Police Officer Rob Hession and fellow Green Meadows staff members Jared Catron, J.R. Dover and Dan Miller, Marshall and Griffin started the meeting by passing out green Boys with a Purpose polo shirts to the 22 fifth-grade boys who are members of the club. After hearing a brief word from Green Meadows principal Brian Johnson, the club broke into groups to learn how to properly greet people and how to wear a tie.

According to the national Boys with a Purpose website, its purpose is to teach young men how to dress, conduct themselves like gentlemen and ultimately find their purpose in life.

“Down in South Carolina, there were two inner-city teachers that started a boys with purpose club. It is actually now a non-for-profit organization that they started,” Marshall said. “We are not a part of that, but they started it. They have really made a difference in the boys in their community and in the schools that they are reaching out to, and we thought it would be something really beneficial for our community as well.

“We have noticed in our community over the past few years that we have just needed some extra guidance for our youth,” Marshall added. “We have noticed, especially in fifth grade this year, that we need to help our students understand what it means to be a respectful young man and to be responsible, kind and generous to one another and to adults around them. So, we started this club to help them do that and help teach them the values that we were taught growing up.”

The club’s motto is “Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good.”

“And that is why we have the nice polo shirts and ties,” Marshall said. “We feel that, with those three things, they can make a difference.”

Members of the club will meet after school each Wednesday, and they will wear their green polos and ties to school each Wednesday.

“The boys loved it, and throughout the rest of the time they were helping each other retie ties,” Marshall said of the inaugural meeting of Boys with a Purpose. “We had a good discussion about how students will react to them on Wednesdays wearing their polos and ties, and how to react to those students and teach them what this is all about.”

Marshall says future meetings of the club will feature guest speakers, starting with Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes on March 20.

“Our assistant superintendent of Community Schools of Frankfort (Joel McKinney) is going to come in and speak,” Marshall said. “We have a local pastor who will come in and speak on a different topic, and we have our mayor coming in next week. Mayor McBarnes is going to come in and speak to our boys about what it means to be a citizen and a community member and how they can contribute to the community.

“So, we have a lot of things like that,” he added. “We are going to go downtown, visit a couple of local businesses and show the students what it is supposed to look like when you are interacting with business owners and what it is supposed to look like when you sit down at a restaurant to eat. We are not screaming and shouting across the table, elbows off the table - things like that. This is for all of our boys who could always use an extra push on how to act properly. That is what we are looking for from both students who do it currently and students who need that extra push.”

Marshall says the new club could always use help with funding future activities.

“We are looking for community support,” he said. “This is not something funded through the school, so we are looking for support through donations to support these boys and the experiences we would like them to have.

“They can contact myself or Will Griffin at Green Meadows or mail checks to the school with Boys with a Purpose in the memo line. We will be sending out some sponsorship letters as well.”