Return to Headlines

APW Elementary Builds Character with Young Men’s Academy and Empowering Young Women

APW Elementary Builds Character with Young Men’s Academy and Empowering Young Women

Students at APW Elementary School now have the opportunity to take part in two exciting character-building groups: Young Men’s Academy and Empowering Young Women.

Young Men’s Academy developed in the second half of the 2021-22 school year as an extracurricular program for young men to gather and emphasize positive values and activities. Robert Ocker – the school’s School Resource Officer and the group’s founder – wanted to provide a place where boys could build character and establish proactive goals.

For 20 minutes once a week, boys from grades four through six could come together, perform a few physical exercises, and settle into some honest discussions on a variety of topics. By the end of the school year, the group was so popular that students asked to have shirts printed to show their participation in the group.

The Young Men’s Academy continued into the current school year, and quickly found itself with a sizeable female counterpart. A growing interest of girls prompted the creation of “Empowering Young Women” in the fall of 2022. Under the leadership of the school counselor Crystal Reynolds, the group provides a space to establish personal and group goals and similarly discuss topics of character.

“The young women have already displayed incredible enthusiasm, beginning to outline collaborative plans to make a greater difference within their school community,” Reynolds noted.

Both groups meet weekly, separating their fourth, fifth, and sixth grade members onto different days. The groups are entirely voluntary and meeting times are scheduled for minimal impact on other academic schedules. Each group also takes great care to re-emphasize character traits already being promoted within the school. APW elementary currently has a robust social-emotional learning curriculum and regularly encourages students to be “Rebel Ready” by exhibiting proper school behaviors. Much of what takes place within YMA and EYW reiterates these themes.

“The idea is that if they can learn strong character and positive behaviors here, they can actually use it at the high school,” said Ocker. “And of course, in life.”