Learning to tie a necktie is one of the first lessons in the Officer and Gentlemen Academy. RoundTable photo

After reading excerpts from speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Gentlemen in this year’s Officer and Gentlemen Academy took the seats on the dais in the Joseph Hill Administration Center on Jan. 18. at the kickoff of the fourth Officer and Gentlemen Academy.

Established at Nichols Middle School in 2017 by Evanston Police Officer Adam Howard, Nichols School Principal Adrian Harries and then-District 65 Student Engagement Coordinator Bryon Harris, the Officer and Gentlemen Academy offers homework, social-emotional support and leadership encouragement to youth of color who attend Evanston middle schools and Evanston Township High School.

After a welcome from Karli Butler and opening remarks from Evanston Police Sergeant Erv deLeon and Officer Howard, Police Chief Demitrous Cook spoke. “I’m challenging you to push these young men,” he said, adding there are other youth in the community who “need to be uplifted.”

Dr. Michael Allen, principal at Oakton Elementary School, spoke of how the father of a friend of his offered the support and encouragement he did not receive from his own father. He told the young men to find a mentor and be vulnerable with him or her, and to “find your dream and live your dream. … There is a world out there that’s counting on you to fail. There’s a community here that’s expecting you to accomplish great things.”

Pastor Monté Dillard of First Church of God gave the analogy of zone defense in basketball. “Cover your zone,” he said, instead of trying to do it all. In covering one’s zone, he said, “You have to have resolve; you have to be resourceful; and you have to have resilience.”

Tie ceremony concluded with the traditional tie ceremony, at which the Gentlemen learn how to tie a necktie; they must wear a tie to each Officer and Gentlemen Academy session.

The members of this year’s Officer and Gentlemen Academy are Johnathan Alvarez, Michael Burrell, Nathan Campbell, Marques Clarke, Darrion Coleman, Marcus Davis Jr., Amari Gray, Demarion Logan, Camarius Miller, Jalen Robrts, Gabriel Rosen and Cellster “Tre” Wright.

In addition to Chief Cook, other City and civic leaders who attended the ceremony were Mayor Stephen Hagerty, Fire Chief Brian Scott, Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite, retired Fifth Ward Alderman Delores Holmes, retired Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington, retired District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren and Dave Davis, community liaison for Northwestern University.