Saginaw’s Kappa Instructional Leadership League inspires boys to become responsible men
A select group of young men in Saginaw County are learning how not to become products of their environment.
“The teenagers in the community are not just fighting and shooting and killing each other,” Prince F. Robertson said. “We do have teenagers in the community that are involved in their schools, in sports, academics and other groups such as ours.”
Robertson is the program director for the Kappa Instructional Leadership League for at-risk high school students in Saginaw County. The program is coordinated by the Saginaw alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., and this is the 30th year the fraternity has sponsored the all-male program.
Robertson, a graduate student at Saginaw Valley State University, has served as a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity for almost two years. This is his first year as director of the league.
He said the league is comprised of about 20 young men representing eight high schools who are taught skills in leadership, development and academic achievement.
“Our main goal is to have them achieve in every field of human endeavor,” Robertson said. “We do our best to teach them how to be responsible, to be successful young men and to be leaders in the community.”
He said the Kappa “leaguers” are invited into the program and meet after school about twice a month throughout the academic year. They practice their leadership skills through community involvement by fundraising, community service and cultural events across the state.
The Kappa league has teamed up with other youth organizations such as the Ivylettes, Dell Sprites and Gamma Kappa Kudos for community events. Gamma Kappa Kudos is an organization similar to the Kappa league comprised of 35 high school males from across Saginaw County. The Gamma Kappa Kudos are sponsored by the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Inc., Gamma Kappa chapter.
Students in the Kappa league visit a different church at least once a month to diversify their experiences within the community, Robertson said. He said the program is designed to support students who struggle academically or face issues outside of school.
“To be in the Kappa league, you have to have leadership and responsibility in becoming a man,” said Nate Riley, 14. “The youth group has helped me to become that man, and so it’s just about helping you out in life.”
Riley, the son of Betty Riley of Saginaw, said he frequently was suspended for misconduct and received poor grades at the Saginaw Preparatory Academy at 5173 Lodge in Saginaw. Now, he is a straight-A eighth-grader at the academy in large part because of his involvement in the program, he said.
League Vice President Lydell D. Simon, 17, has a family history with the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Both his grandfather and uncle are members of the fraternity, which drew him to participation in the league for the last three years.
Simon, the son of Dell Simon and Cara Walker of Saginaw, will represent the Saginaw Kappa league as student of the year and will join students from other Kappa leagues in the fraternity’s yearly province council meeting in New York. He said he received the honor because of his grade point average and extracurricular success as a junior at Arthur Hill High School, 3115 Mackinaw in Saginaw.
“It’s a good honor, especially since I have a GPA above 3.5 and a lot of other students don’t have that, especially those who play sports, as well,” Simon said.
He is a running back and middle linebacker for Arthur Hill’s football team and is a guard on the school’s basketball team. Simon said he would like to receive a college sports scholarship to pursue a degree in engineering.
Every student in the program in the last two years has entered college or a vocational training program after graduating from high school, Robertson said. He said the league has no plans to slow down.
“I do my best to keep them busy,” Robertson said. “I want to show them there’s more to the world than just Saginaw.”