They say clothes don’t make the man, but teacher Melissa Anderson is showing Guillen Middle School boys that the right duds coupled with good deeds can make a gentleman.
Anderson started the Guillen Boys Club this school year to teach students important values about becoming a responsible adult, including how to dress professionally.
“The students were reluctant at first because they didn’t understand they were going to be able to keep the clothes,” she said. “It’s great to see them to get excited about something so simple that we take for granted.”
The club is taking donations to institute dress-up Fridays, a day in which club members will be asked to wear a dress shirt with either a tie or bow tie during the school day.
Club members began asking for donations on social media and the community has stepped up to help them.
“Our very first donation was from the librarian at Barron Elementary School,” Anderson said. “She sent over a shirt and tie.”
Bowie High School alum Candy Quezada has donated more than 20 bow ties and has challenged other alumni to donate as well.
“We can go out and buy the shirts for them, but we want the community to take a stake in it,” Anderson said. “That way we can tell them: ‘You are providing this for our boys. You are telling them you believe in them. You are telling them they are worth it.’ I think that’s the most exciting part of all of this.”
Eighth-grader David Chaves is looking forward to representing the club and already has an eye on which bow tie he’s going to wear.
“We want people to view us as gentlemen and to see that we are responsible,” he said. “We want to do good things in life and teach our kids the things we are learning.”
Student Nathan Galindo likes the idea of the whole school dressing up on Fridays.
“We want everyone to feel special and to be treated equally,” he said. “Especially here in Segundo Barrio. I think dressing up will make us stand out more and people can take us more seriously.”
Counselor Sonia Antunez has seen a difference already in the students.
The club is not all about nice threads, though. The students have been doing team-building exercises, as well as physical activities to get them motivated.
“They are at the age when they think they are too cool to do anything. We needed a way to make connections with them,” Anderson said. “Not with another tutoring session, but just by telling them to show up so we can have some fun.”
Students will learn important life skills, such as using tools. The school has partnered with Home Depot to host a DIY night, so students can learn how to be “handy.”
“We are going to learn to build things and be able to help out at home,” Chaves said.
Anderson hopes these activities will encourage students to take ownership of not only their appearance, but their behavior beyond home and the classroom.
“It’s not just about being the nice guy to your girlfriend and your mom. It’s about being that stand-up guy in the community where people say ‘Hey, he’s from the Segundo. He’s good people,’” she said. “That’s the culture of the area, so we want to back up the talk. These are our kids. They are good kids, and they are worth it.”
The school is accepting donations of new or gently used neck or bow ties, button-up shirts, slacks and shoes. Donations can be dropped off at the front office.
Authors/Photogs:Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD