LAKE MARY, Fla. – The Young Men of Excellence program at Lake Mary High School is preparing students for leadership roles now and into adulthood.
“We teach our kids a lot of different things as it relates to life but we tie in a lot of things about leadership. It’s important to us that we mold our young men to get ready but to make a change in the world,” said teacher Curtis Smith.
Smith said the curriculum is designed with opportunities he wishes he had when he was younger. The teacher said he’s reflected on his personal experience to help push the next generation forward.
“I believe that this program was needed when I was growing up. I could have benefitted from that. Growing up without my dad in the home not really a whole lot of positive male role models. A program like this could have really done some good for me, so every day I set up with one of these guys I look at it as a giving back process and I take pride in it,” he said.
Teachers Curtis Smith and Joel Ortiz lead the men in lessons based on five pillars: brotherhood, leadership, wisdom, chivalry and strength.
“It’s more than a class, it’s a way of life,” said Ortiz. “I feel like this class allows me to be who I needed to be when I was younger, to boost them up, encourage them and excite them to the greatest man they can be in life and have an amazing family and one day come back and take the mantle or do something great with their life. That’s my favorite about the class.”
To qualify, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a positive behavioral standing and strong leadership qualities. Students also must fill out an application, have a teacher recommendation and complete an interview.
Ortiz says students are involved in philanthropy both at school and in the community. The group makes college visits and hears from guest speakers.
You can follow the group on Instagram @youngmenofexcellence. If parents are interested in learning more, you can contact Ortiz at 407-502-2036 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.