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Evanston police officers last week held an orientation session for the 2018 class of the department’s Officer and Gentlemen Academy, a male mentoring program for middle school students.

The program launched this year at Nichols Middle School and is expanding to the Martin Luther King magnet school for 2018.

The facilitators — Detective Ken Carter and officers Adam Howard, Mario Miller and Robert Robbins — say the mission of the program is to educate, inspire and empower young men to reach their full potential. It includes 12 weeks of education and mentoring. 

Last Thursday’s orientation session at Fire Department Headquarters offered an overview of the program and a station tour for the 12 participating students and their parents.

Curriculum based lessons are held on Wednesdays and extracurricular activities are held on Saturdays.

The Wednesday program centers around concepts of male etiquette, professional attire, development and maintenance of peer relationships, goal setting, self-confidence, improvement of decision-making skills, positive interactions with law enforcement, knowledge of the law, community service, and financial literacy.

The Saturday portion of the program focuses on fun team building activities that reinforce concepts taught throughout the week.

The Officer and Gentlemen Academy will host a kickoff event on Jan. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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