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MARY MEAUX — Tomorrow’s leaders have a chance to shine through Port Arthur mentorships

I had a chance to witness two groups of people making a positive change in our community and wanted to share this with readers if they didn’t already know.

First off, Levy Q. Barnes Jr., the author of “The Pathway to Life,” began a new mentorship program using his book in several Port Arthur Independent School District schools. The purpose, he said, is to rescue as many people as he can and see as many people successful as possible.

The program had its beginnings when Barnes was a biology teacher in a different district. He said he would often find himself mentoring youth who struggled with drugs, gang violence, abuse, bullying, fatherless homes, and a lack of guidance. He and his former assistant principal, Luther Thompson, started a mentorship program, which taught young men the basic essentials of becoming a man. They would teach manners, etiquette and community service while introducing them to career opportunities.

Barnes later left teaching and began his own manufacturing business but continued mentoring youth in the community. Years later, he decided to put the basic principles he used for his mentorship into a book and a program.

On Feb. 12, Lincoln Middle School Principal LaSonya Baptiste will launch the program at her school through the young men’s mentoring group called GENTS, or Great Empowering Noteworthy Tenacious Students.

Lincoln Middle School Principal LaSonya Baptiste holds a copy of “The Pathway to Life” by Levy Q. Barnes. The author has partnered with LMS and several other Port Arthur schools in a mentoring program for youth. (Courtesy photo)

Also this past week a group of ten male students from PAISD received their first black suit, white shirt and black tie and black shoes combo courtesy of Grace Hub Inc. in conjunction with Port Arthur LNG.

Lincoln High School alum the Rev. Dr. Simeon Queen of Grace Hub Inc. described the black suit as “life giving.”

The suit, he told students, is empowering and important in how one is perceived.

I saw these 10 young men ranging from elementary school age through high school wearing the iconic black suit. Their shoulders were back, they stood straight and tall and emitted an air of confidence.

One of the mentors at the ceremony, Lincoln High School alum Dominic Hardie, remembers when then Justice of the Peace Thurman Bartie reached out an olive branch and gave him a suit. This allowed him to participate in an internship when he was in college.

“When I think about a black suit, I think about professionalism and preparation,” Hardie said. “When you go in life you’ll understand what we mean. It makes you feel professional. It makes you feel prepared and I think it just helps your mind.”

All of these students, with the help of the community, are sure to become tomorrow’s leaders due to the mentorship of others.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com