Preparing young men in high school for the challenges and struggles in today’s society is often a challenge.
In order to promote positive alternatives to self-destructive behaviors and societal pitfalls Hollywood Hills High School and South Broward High School are now utilizing a program developed by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson known as 5000 Mentors of Excellence.
Major Reginald Smith, who runs the program at Hollywood Hills High School, wants community and business leaders to mentor high school boys. The project’s mission is to intervene in the lives of at-risk boys, in order to provide them with alternatives that will lead them away from a life of crime and violence.
“I want to offer mentoring to young men who are at risk of dropping out of high school,” Smith said. “I want to identify young men who are at risk and pair them out with a community leader who can offer support and advice.”
The mentors help the young men navigate life’s challenges such as getting into college and developing a career. They encourage the young men to do well in academics and avoid trouble.
According to the program’s website, 5000 Mentors of Excellence was started in March 1993 by then Miami-Dade County School Board Member Frederica Wilson who “noticed a pattern of young minority boys either being incarcerated, entering the drug trade, or dropping out of school.”
Smith knows there is more to succeeding in college than passing tests. She wants the young men to develop the skills necessary to deal with these emotional and social issues that often compound academic challenges.
“I believe it is important for young men to make good decisions,” Smith said. “I want them to know what to expect when they get to college.”
Smith has led trips to college campuses including Florida State, University of North Florida, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida and other universities. The students also took a trip to Washington D.C. to see how the government really works.
“I want the young men to be prepared for education and real life when they graduate from Hollywood Hills,” Smith said.
“The 5000 Role Models of Excellence has been so much more than just a program for me, it’s become a part of my life that has transformed my way of thinking! From visiting jails to meeting Former President Bill Clinton it’s definitely made an ever lasting impact on my life that will forever impact the steps I take on this everyday journey! “– 2016 program participant Jesus Morel
The program at South Broward High School is engaging in similar trips and activities.
“We will be visiting the University of Miami and other colleges,” said Erich Charles, the 11th grade dean and the sponsor of the organization at South Broward High School.
The boys have visited the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami and they have participated in various assemblies. They will be meeting with professionals and business leaders in the community.
“I want them to know about the career opportunities that are available to them if they work hard in school,” said Charles.
“I like being in the organization and I want to pursue a career in law,” said William Troy, a member of the South Broward High School 5000 Role Models of Excellence program.
“I like this group and I like what we are doing,” said Rasheen Davis, another participant in the program. “I want to pursue a business career.”
If you are interested in starting a 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project program at your school, send an email with Start a Program at My School in the subject line and include a letter with the school letter head stating your interest in starting a 5000 Role Model Program to Mr. Antonio Burgess, Program Manager of 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, Antonio.Burgess@browardschools.com.