WATERLOO, Iowa — How you dress on some occasions may be inappropriate for others.

It’s an important lesson recently learned by Corterrio Sallay that was made more fun with the help of a mannequin. He and the group of eight other Irving Elementary fifth-grade boys who meet weekly in a new program, From Boys To Men, got to see the mannequin with four different outfits for school, sporting events and going out to dinner.

Sallay said they learned “how to dress like a man” through the lesson. “Like, if you go on a date you’ve got to dress up like a man,” he said, noting different clothing is acceptable for a basketball game.

The Courier (http://bit.ly/2dUTNSB ) reported that Kevin Grieme, one of the program’s volunteer leaders, said they are teaching the boys “basic manners and how to be a good person” when they meet each Monday at the beginning of the school day over 10 weeks. “The students were picked by the school,” he noted.

“We thought they would benefit from something like this,” said Irving school counselor Anthony Thomas, who is assisting with the program. “It’s helping the kids pretty much know what the expectations are — how to dress for a game, how to dress for a dinner” in the case of the appropriate clothing lesson.

Adam Bolander, the other volunteer leader, believes their work is already bearing fruit. “We stay in contact with the teachers, and they say they’ve seen a huge transformation in the past three weeks” since the program began.

Fifth-grader Devan Bach, citing another one of the program’s lessons, said, “I think it’s going to help me with my health and hygiene. Hygiene is really good for our body, because if you don’t have good hygiene your life is basically a mess.”

For that lesson, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, soap, deodorant and shampoo donated by program sponsors was handed out to the boys.

“Originally, when they were asking us, they wanted me to take a student and Kevin to take a student,” said Bolander. Both are Courier employees who represent the company in its involvement with the school through the Partners in Education program.

But the two reasoned if they worked with a group of boys, the efforts could have a larger impact and create a special bond. “These kids will be best friends and they will kind of mentor each other outside of the program,” said Bolander. They hope to offer the program for another set of boys during the second and third trimesters as well.

Through Facebook, Bolander learned about someone leading a similar program in South Carolina. He and Grieme decided to replicate it and wrote a simple 10-chapter curriculum. They reached out to local businesses for help with props like the mannequin and items to hand out. The boys have been given polo shirts embossed with the program’s logo.

Each week, the boys’ teachers fill out report cards rating them on paying attention, following directions, arriving on time and saying “good morning.” The group will spend some time playing in the gym or outside during a session “as long as everybody has pretty good scores,” said Bolander.

The most recent lesson was “Always be kind.” The boys were asked to recount their acts of kindness over the weekend. They were also quizzed on which response is right in a number of situations posed to them.

Afterwards, each boy was given a donated sweatshirt to deliver to the principal’s office. The items were requested from Irving’s partner businesses to help keep cold students warm during the school day.

Student Cameron Roberts is glad to be a part of the program.

“I think it’s an honor, because you get to lead and you get to help other kids,” he said, referencing their trip down to the office with sweatshirts. “To be a gentleman, it takes more. You’ve got to go above and beyond to help other people.”

Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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