Saturday, February 11, 2012

Smithfield Alumni of KAPsi and Men Of Distinction Host 'Valentine's Day Breakfast'


This morning, brothers of the Smithfield Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. along with the leaders from the Men of Distinction came together to enjoy breakfast at the Golden Corral in Smithfield, NC. The event was called a "Valentine's Breakfast" which gave the chapter an opportunity to recognize the Silhouettes (the wives of Kappas) and thank them for their support.

The event, which hosted about 30 people, began with a brief welcome and introduction. Following the occasion, a plaque was given to Dr. Cynthia Ennis, the wife of the late Reginald Ennis, a charter member of the Smithfield Alumni Chapter. Dr. Ennis, as revealed by Brother Marlon Lee, was key in molding the hearts and minds of many generations. In fact, it was during a program called Friends of Distinction that Dr. Ennis first led Marlon and his fellow students toward academic achievement.

Through that experience, Brother Lee later created a similar program devoted to helping young men achieve in life. He called them the Men of Distinction.

Men of Distinction began in the year 2003 at Clayton High School in Clayton, NC. It's motto, We stand T.A.L.L. (To Achieve Learn and Love), is both meaningful and appropriate. Standing at 6'11", Marlon Lee and his Men of Distinction certainly garner attention.

Brother Lee is a highly decorated head coach who leads the Girls Varsity Basketball Team at Clayton High School. As a coach, he has been voted Coach of the Year three times and the first African-American head coach at Clayton High School. As a player, Marlon helped St. Augustine's College win the CIAA Championship in 1997.

The Men of Distinction, which is often recognized for its community service activities and overall academic achievements, currently houses 37 guys on the roster (25 at Clayton High School and 12 at Smithfield-Selma High School). Of the 25 students at Clayton High School, 19 maintain an A/B average.

According to Marlon, the academic achievements are the result of the strong brotherhood between members. Using the "each one, teach one" approach, members help each other. Lee explained that where one student is good in math, the other is good in science and they help each other succeed.

"People are watching, so why not let them watch us excel," Lee says.

The Men of Distinction program, under Marlon's leadership, was doing so well that they started another chapter at Smithfield-Selma High School. Lamar Minter, a Microsoft Academy teacher at Smithfield-Selma High School, recalls how it all began. He explained that after a Smithfield Alumni & Men of Distinction event last year (Real Men, Real Talk), a student asked if they could start a local chapter. Marlon agreed and the rest is history.

The Men of Distinction program not only focuses on brotherhood and grades, but also gives back through community service projects (i.e. peer tutoring, football field cleanup, and Power Hour with the local Boys and Girls Club).

As a member of the Smithfield Alumni Chapter, Brother Lee sees the Men of Distinction as a part of the local Guide Right program and actively encourages members to join its Kappa League.

Overall, I'd say the Valentine's Breakfast was a good event. It brought parents, chapter brothers, community leaders, families, friends, and the youth out for a fun and enjoyable time.

If you cannot see the photo gallery, click here.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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