Elmont Memorial High School’s Men of Elmont held their second annual summit on May 11. The Men of Elmont club serves as a leadership workshop to help students deal with the challenges they face inside and outside of school in order to succeed in life. This year’s summit was themed “Building a Blueprint” for success by introducing students to men who have achieved it in various industries and professions.
“We had actually heard a speech from Martin Luther King Jr. where he mentions a need for a blueprint to success, and with that quote in mind, the students wanted it to be the theme for the summit,” Elmont Memorial High School Principal Kevin Dougherty said.
With King’s “The Most Important Time of Your Life,” in mind, six mentors gathered at the high school to talk about their struggles and successes in their respective fields. Elmont Memorial alumnus Erick Blamoville Jr., who works in the music management industry, made a point of saying that he and his fellow panelists faced additional obstacles because they are men of color. He said that society isn’t built for people of color to succeed, but that it can be used as a motivator.
Greg Cally, another Elmont Memorial alumnus, agreed with Blamoville and talked about his own journey, discovering what he called “generational wealth.” When he went on from Elmont to St. John’s University, Cally found that his white classmates benefited greatly from their parent’s money and received additional opportunities because of it. Cally now serves as the CEO of Redhouse Visuals, which produces music videos for artists and entertainers.
“I want to be the first step in creating generational wealth for my family,” Cally said. “I want my kids to have the opportunities I never did.”
Taking risks on opportunities was a major focus of the summit, and something that is reinforced in the Men of Elmont club, which was launched by Dougherty two years ago through a partnership with Project Helping Young People Evolve. Project HYPE Director Raymond Ramos, a U.S. Army veteran and retired New York City police officer, said the club has helped its 56 members find their real value and seek ways to maximize their potential. Dougherty added that this was done not only by introducing students to mentors, but also by taking them to college open houses and leadership conferences.
“The key thing is to provide exposure to our students,” Dougherty said. “It shows them what they’re capable of doing.”
Now starting his third year partnering with Elmont, Ramos is looking to create other young men’s leadership clubs in the Sewanhaka Central High School District. The Men of Elmont club has also inspired Elmont Memorial’s female students to kick off their own leadership sessions earlier this year as the Leading Ladies of Elmont. They will host their inaugural symposium on June 1, which will feature a panel of female professionals.