VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Surrounded by young men in bow ties and suspenders, you’d look around and think you’re in an office.
If it’s Wednesday at Lynnhaven Elementary School, you’re likely just in Calvin Gunning’s classroom.
He hosts “Cubs to Lions”, a mentorship program, weekly. Third-graders to fifth-graders are invited to participate.
The club focuses on preparing boys to transition into young men. They’re studying learning good manners and healthy habits. Some days, they’re even learning how to treat girls and women they interact with.
“Look good, feel good, do good,” that’s the mantra you’ll hear filling the halls outside Mr. Gunning’s classroom.
Those six words mean the world to Cubs to Lions members.
“Cubs to Lions is a social group that we have developed about three years ago to turn young men into men of distinction,” explains Gunning.
He didn’t have anything like this growing up, so when his school principal came to him looking for ideas, he knew this was a unique opportunity.
“It’s priceless,” he tells 10 On Your Side. “You’re giving them an opportunity to expand and to learn. When you have a tie on and you’re dressed up and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re feeling good about yourself.”
The students agree that when you’re feeling good about yourself, you want to do good for others and you treat others better.
“When you’re talking to someone, especially a young lady, especially your principal, what do we say?” It’s questions like these that Gunnings brings to his students prompting thought into their actions or reactions.
Students like Jomarion Holley tell 10 On Your Side it’s about more than learning manners for him. “A lot of times, I doubt myself about what’s to come. Like, am I going to pass this test, or if I’ll even make it to the sixth grade,” he explained.
Confidence is just one of the many life skills Cubs to Lions works to give its members. From those all-important studying habits, to a club final that requires them to know the basic manners for a date, students leave with a foundation.
For Jomarion, and the other cubs, that goes beyond knowing how to tie that bow tie.
“It gives me a push for life really. It’s giving me a push to go to college and tell other people you shouldn’t be afraid of what you’re going through,” he said. “I had to take some deep breaths, but I’m not scared anymore.”
Lynnhaven Elementary School teachers and students are working every day towards creating and being better people. They say it’s not too late for you to do the same.
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