• 59°

Local alumni mentor male high school students

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Shon Blackwell, 17, holds up lights as Kentray Tucker, 17, hands him a tie to secure lights to trees in downtown Brookhaven as part of a community service project during their involvement in the Alpha Beautillion program.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Shon Blackwell, 17, holds up lights as Kentray Tucker, 17, hands him a tie to secure lights to trees in downtown Brookhaven as part of a community service project during their involvement in the Alpha Beautillion program.

Stories of alumni coming back into a community and encouraging its students to work hard and better their surroundings are always inspiring. Such a story lies in the work of the Alpha Beautillion program that seeks to assist male students in Lincoln County and surrounding areas in preparing them for college and providing them an environment where they are enriched through education research, seminars, workshops and social activities.

Sponsored by the Mu Pi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the Beautillion started in 1989 with its first group of beaux graduating from the program in 1990. The program was started to provide a personal development experience and recognition event for African-American male high school students.

“It’s like a mentoring program, rites-of-passage and male debutante all rolled into one,” Dexter Holloway, a mentor of the program, said.

Holloway said the program seeks to recognize the diamond-in-the-rough students who may not be super athletes or super smart but still have a desire to go to college. Although previously formed for only seniors the program has been revamped to include underclassmen, allowing in ninth, 10th and 11th graders. The program currently has 16 students ranging from the ages of 16 to 18.

Upon filling out an application to be in the program, Holloway said the students they look for have to have a personal desire to get involved, be average students who aren’t necessarily always in the limelight and who just need a little polishing followed by an interview.

Holloway said it is important that students themselves have the desire because in the past parents have wanted their students to become part of the program but the students weren’t as motivated.

In further explanation regarding how parents feel about the program and its potential for their child, Holloway recalled a particular review he received from a mother of a past beau.

“A mother told me that she didn’t know how we would have made it if it weren’t for the Beautillion. It opened her son’s eyes up to the world,” Holloway said.

Holloway shares that the program has seen many guys who have gone off to college and even some who have pledged to one of the historically black fraternities. Although the program is sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Holloway stresses that the program is not a pre-pledge club.

In fact, the Beautillion program introduces its students to as many of the historically black fraternities and sororities as possible. Holloway shared that of the nine Greek organizations within the National Pan-Hellenic Council, there are chapters of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. in the Brookhaven or McComb area. Holloway shared that the Deltas and Zetas both have similar organizations for the youth of the area, the Gems and the Archonettes, respectively.

Holloway said with the help and partnership of all of these chapters, the Beautillion program is able to offer workshops for its students regarding public speaking, etiquette, financial planning and community service. Holloway also said past students have been involved in a campaign for not drinking and driving and the March of Dimes. Students also learn the importance of sex education regarding safe sex and keeping oneself protected.

Just recently nine of the beaux helped the Chamber of Commerce with hanging festive lights on the trees in downtown Brookhaven. Holloway said to watch out for the young men who will be ringing the bell for the Salvation Army on Dec. 20.

Holloway said the program is all about giving back and being the best you can be and instilling in the students the need to get involved with the community which is important because “these are our next generation of leaders.”