Boys to men: New program provides support for eighth graders

Published Wednesday, October 25, 2017
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Working as a Team

WORKING AS A TEAM – Wise County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer John Mosley (left) has started a new club for eighth-grade boys at Chico Middle School this year. Among those attending the weekly meetings are (from left) Trevor Melton, Kohl Evans and Ty South. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Eighth grade is often a big year of transition as boys become young men ready to enter high school.

Chico Middle School is trying a new program this year aimed at helping with that transition.

School Resource Officer John Mosley started a club at the beginning of the school year that meets for lunch once a week. Every eighth-grade boy attends.

Mosley said the club is about providing positive reinforcement in addition to helping the boys become respectful young men.

“A lot of times they don’t have positive reinforcement outside the family,” he said. “Sometimes there are issues within the family.”

The club also allows the young men to see law enforcement in a positive light, he said.

Each week they eat as a single group, and the topics of that week’s meeting are up to the students.

“We’ll talk about anything from how to talk to girls to how to shake a hand – that involves making sure it’s not a wet noodle, making sure they look a guy in the eye when they shake a hand. It’s pretty much up to them what we discuss because they are the ones who have the questions, and I want them to feel comfortable enough they can ask me anything. Anything that comes up, we’ll talk about it,” Mosley said.

And what is discussed in those meetings stays in those meetings.

Mosley said he has also challenged the group to be responsible not only for themselves but also each other. That might include the students asking each other if they turned in their assignments that week.

The boys who attend the club say they enjoy the opportunity to speak freely.

“The openness about it, to not be afraid to ask any questions, it’s all welcomed,” student Kohl Evans said.

“You don’t get judged for what you ask in there,” said student Trevor “Porkchop” Melton.

Student Ty South said, “For what we can say to him without getting in trouble, not like cuss words but …”

“… stuff we couldn’t say at school,” Melton said, finishing the thought.

The three said they have learned to be more respectful to others, which has been a big theme so far, Mosley said.

“We’re learning about respect,” he said. “Respect for themselves, for others, for teachers, for authority, and if you can get that down, you’ll be a good person.”

Teachers have taken notice of the change as well.

“I had one teacher come up the first week and say, ‘I don’t know what you are doing, but every one of these guys have come up and shook my hand this week.’ He had already seen a difference,” Mosley said.

Even though the boys are dismissed for lunch a few minutes early over the loud speaker, Mosley said at least one of the students will raise their hand and ask to be dismissed before leaving. Once they are in the hallways, they walk down the hallway instead of running like they did early in the year.

With the early success of the pilot program, Mosley said fellow School Resource Officer Sgt. Paige Dobyns is working toward starting a similar club for eighth-grade girls, possibly starting January following Christmas break.

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