March 22, 2017

When STRIVE Prep – RISE opened last fall, scholars and staff looked forward to being able to choose what their school culture would look like and what opportunities their school would offer, both to its students and the surrounding community.

One group, started by Assistant Principal Jay Samant, has been working hard to give back to the school and community through professional and character development for its members.

Mr. Samant started the True Gentleman Fraternity as an organization to empower and develop young men as leaders on campus.

“I wanted them to feel empowered and have opportunities in leadership, service to humanity and to promote diverse cultures and for them to really grow into themselves,” said Mr. Samant.

Since the group began taking applications last October, they have inducted 22 members, with six

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The True Gentlemen Fraternity at the Youth Leadership Summit at Manuel High School.

members serving in leadership roles.

The students were attracted to the group because of the growth opportunities they knew it would offer.

“The reason I joined is because I thought it would be a good chance to interact with my peers and a good opportunity to learn to be more professional and respectful and to become a better leader,” said Jackquee Stephenson, who serves as the fraternity’s president.

So far, the fraternity members have attended the League of Leadership conference, a student-led conference designed to empower young men of color.

“We covered everything from racism to leadership, and we even got to meet David Banner, former rapper,” said Vice President Brayan Cruz Mendoza who also noted that the event was one of his favorite memories this year.

The young men are working to identify more opportunities for both leadership and community service.

“I help Mr. Samant find opportunities for community service and we’re planning a trip to Urban Farms to give back,” said Alex Ramos-Loya, the group’s community service chairman.

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The young men with Ms. Perez on Valentine’s Day.

The group has found small ways to give back and show respect around campus as well – on Valentine’s Day they showed their appreciation for the staff at school by giving each female staff member a flower, and serenading her in Spanish.

“We wanted to show them respect and thank them for everything they do for us,” Alex said.

The young men are also looking forward to attending the Youth Job Fair and practicing their professionalism in a new environment later this year, as well as growing the organization as a whole.

“They are refining the organization and excited to continue growing,” said Mr. Samant. “They’re building culture within their class and holding themselves to high standards – both academically and professionally.”

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