ORANGE, NJ — On Jan. 27, Lincoln Avenue School in Orange held an uplifting forum, Boys to Men Brunch, for male students, bringing together respected community members, including members of the Orange Fire and Police departments and city council. Their presence acknowledged students’ growth and development into upstanding men.
The event was orchestrated by community school coordinator Damian Otchere, who is charged with establishing community-focused programs to support student needs at Lincoln. He is part of the Office of Innovation and Community Engagement, led by Executive Director Faith Alcantara, in the group managed by community engagement officer Barry Devone. Otchere coordinated breakfast and reached out to the superintendent of schools, district administrators, city officials and a compelling keynote speaker, Michael Spence, to fulfill the program’s vision. He was further supported by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Eta Pi Chapter, which distributed ties for the tie ceremony, led by member Matt Stevens.
The brunch opened with networking before remarks from Lincoln Avenue Principal Patrick Yearwood. Superintendent of Schools Gerald Fitzhugh II followed with comments and the introduction of board of education member David Armstrong, a former PTO president for Lincoln Avenue School. Next, Mayor Dwayne D. Warren remarked on the significance of the occasion introducing Police Director Todd Warren, Fire Chief Derrick Brown, Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten and Chief Judge Michael Hackett.
“This was an amazing forum for our students,” Fitzhugh said. “January is National Mentoring Month, and we were committed to providing programs for our students that present role models they can emulate and were present to interact with our students, alongside their parents. We are extremely proud of this event.”
Otchere, who not only emceed the event but sang an excellent rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come,” introduced Spence, a product of Orange and motivational speaker, for the keynote address. Spence warmed up the audience with a game of Simon Says, delivering a powerful and inspirational message about responsibility and encouraging students to find their inner voices to help them overcome barriers to achievement.
Closing out the event was a tie ceremony, in which adult participants assisted students in tying their neckties in a right-of-passage tradition.
Photos Courtesy of Joan Purkiss