MULLINS, S.C. – More than 25 students are learning lessons on leadership and community service through the Distinguished Gentlemen Initiative in association with Evidence Consulting and a joint project with Loris Middle School and Whittemore Park Middle School in Conway.

Last month the group of boys paid a visit to the Mullins Nursing Center on Mother’s Day to learn the importance of respecting their elders and being men of service. They presented the staff and residents with red carnations to show  appreciation.

"Given the many challenges facing our youth today, the presence of a strong mentoring program has proven to make a difference by providing the confidence, skills, and motivation necessary to become productive citizens,” lead advisor and Teacher of the Year Eric Troy said. “Palmetto Middle School has created an opportunity for our young men to realize and reach their full potential, academically and socially.”

Troy along with advisors Daniel Weeks, Brandon Johnson and Kelvin Edwards said the goal is to support excellence by providing academic and social interventions for the at-risk male subgroup. Students attend weekly workshops that include tutoring, leadership seminars, and teamwork building activities after school. The gentlemen are encouraged to “dress-to-impress” every Wednesday and are obligated to participate in community service projects and field trips.

Students attended a leadership retreat at Myrtle Beach over the weekend, spending three days and two nights camping in tents at Myrtle Beach State Park. While there, they participated in nature hikes and leadership-teamwork building activities. They also pitched their own tents, cooked their own food, and responsible for most of the weekend’s campsite duties. The trip also includes activities at Myrtle Waves, WonderWorks, pier fishing and fine dining at Yamato’s Japanese Steak House at Broadway at the Beach.

Troy said without donations from the community and fundraisers, the retreat would not be possible.

“The support from the community is detrimental to the success of our program and we appreciate all that our village does for our youth,” he said.

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Born in Atlantic City; raised in Mullins. Graduated from SC State University, home of the mighty Bulldogs. Editor of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Loves spending free time with his daughter. Huge sports fan.

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