CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Wednesdays at Menger Elementary School in Corpus Christi, you’ll see something unusual.
Around 20 boys wearing neckties as they roam the halls and as they sit in their classrooms, and it’s not just about looking good.
“Because I really like ties, and I really want to be a gentleman,” is why fourth grader Cayden Milikan says he wears one.
“I hope to be a better gentleman, and I hope to be — have better manners,” is how fifth grader Patrick Cober explains his dapper attire.
Those are also the goals of the new social club at Menger called Guys in Ties.
First grade teacher Reggie Perez organized it after seeing a similar group at a different school on YouTube.
In addition to wearing ties every Wednesday, the club will meet once a month, and the boys will learn lessons about growing up to become gentlemen.
“Guys in ties is just a club, a social club, that we’ve created here at Menger Elementary to show our young men that wearing a tie is good,” Perez said. "It can foster confidence that it can help them later on maybe with a career, so that they’ll look down the road perhaps, and just respect.”
Meetings will also feature guest speakers who, like Perez, hope to serve as positive male role models for club members — which some of the boys don’t have at home.
At the club’s first meeting on Wednesday, Corpus Christi City Council member for District 2 Ben Molina spoke.
“It’s an excellent program,” he said. "It’s something that I wish that I had when we were growing up. This program, it’s all about teaching these young boys self respect.”
Lesson one — how to properly greet someone.
Perez and Molina taught the boys to make eye contact, shake hands, and clearly identify themselves.
But the lessons will cover a wide variety of topics.
Perez says at the next meeting a player from the Corpus Christi Hooks will join the boys and teach them how to throw a curveball.
The main topics, however, will be manners, dressing for success, and self confidence.
One meeting in, and the boys are already showing progress.
“Because if I do that, I will somehow become a gentleman some day,” Milikan said.
“It makes me feel better about myself, because people are noticing me more than whenever I’m not wearing a tie,” Cober said.
Any student at Menger, including girls, can join the group.
But with the school having a large low income population, and as membership grows, so does a glaring need for the club’s namesake.
“We’re sorely lacking ties,” Perez said. "We’ve got shirts, but we just don’t have the ties. I’ve got the kids wanting to wear the ties, but I just don’t have the ties to give to the kids. So if there’s any out there, man we sure could use them.”
If you’d like to help out, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.