Learning Lunch: 'Developing Young Men and Women'

Learning to be responsible. Making a difference in the community. Acting politely and respectfully. Dressing for success.

Those are some of the lessons learned by members of the Young Men’s Club and Young Women’s Club at Huntington Elementary School. The two student clubs were the subject of the latest LPS Learning Lunch, “Developing Young Men and Women,” held Tuesday at the LPS district office.

Huntington Principal Rik Devney started the Young Men’s Club five years ago with the overall mission of molding hand-selected fifth-grade boys into young men before they enter middle school. Three Huntington teachers started the Young Women’s Club two years ago with a similar mission.

“It’s about how to empower and educate our students to make a difference in the community,” Devney said. “We really see some good things happening with the work we’re doing.”

Since the clubs formed, 65 boys and 25 girls have been members. They participate in a variety of activities, including:

  • Volunteering at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo and Capital Humane Society.
  • Holding formal dances twice a year.
  • Learning table manners -  which fork do I use for the main course? What do I with my napkin when I’m finished? How should I act at a formal meal?
  • For the boys, handing out carnations to female students at nearby Nebraska Wesleyan University on Valentine’s Day.
  • Taking a field trip to a department store, where students pick out formal outfits, including ties for the boys and scarves for the girls. Boys learn how to tie their own ties.

The students typically wear their formal outfits when they go on field trips and on specific “club days” at school. Devney tells them, “We have to dress for success. We have to look different. We have to make a presence. We have to have relevance wherever we go - and that’s in school and out in the community.”

Four students were on hand Tuesday to share their favorite memories so far of being in the Young Men’s Club and the Young Women’s Club.

Isela Rivas

“We did the marshmallow challenge. You put a marshmallow in front of you for 15 minutes and you can’t do anything to the marshmallow. That taught me that I need to have patience and that not a lot of things are going to come my way as fast as I want them.”

Katrina Webb

“Volunteering at the zoo. It impacted me because it taught me to give back to the community and to work with others more often.”

Juan Valverde Cruz

“Going to Wesleyan and giving out flowers. It helped me to be confident around men, boys, girls, and ladies, so I won’t act weird and I’ll act respectful and be polite to people.”

Michael Maschka

“The dance. It showed me I need to be more confident in myself.”

LPS Learning Lunches, open to the Lincoln community, are generally held on the last Tuesday of the month in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. You bring your lunch, we provide dessert.

The rest of the 2017-18 season:

  • Tuesday, April 24: A Great Year of Achievement, highlighting LPS special education programs at Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers – Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS.
  • Tuesday, May 15: Making Music, UKE can do it!  Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS.

Published: March 28, 2018, Updated: March 28, 2018

"It’s about how to empower and educate our students to make a difference in the community."

Rik Devney, principal at Huntington Elementary School