What’s the best way to teach young men and women how to become respectful, responsible adults?
According to a quartet of Sealy High School graduates, it takes good parenting and mentorship.
“Growing up we didn’t have a lot of things to do out here,” said Bradley Hall at a recent Friday night softball game. Hall is a 2007 SHS graduate and San Felipe native who recently graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in industrial distribution.
Minority youth in particular, “were not really occupied in a positive way,” he said.
“We graduated from here,” Hall said at a Friday night softball game at his hometown school. “We grew up here. When we graduated, a lot of my peers, we all went to college. We all left.”
At A&M, Hall said he got a better understanding of community and how to build youth into strong men.
He also recalled that, growing up, the Sealy East Side Foundation was important.
This is what gave Hall, along with Sealy High School classmates Te'Sheena Cloud, Kai Jerrels and Damon Robbins, to organize the Youth Refinery. The group’s mission is to promote educational programs and leadership opportunities for young men and women from sixth grade through 12th grade.
“Our primary mission is to expand their horizons and encourage them to higher education and community involvement,” he said. “We teach them leadership skills, how to be respectful. We taught them that ‘yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am’ will take them a lot farther. Respect is the priority.”
Cloud and Robbins have degrees from Sam Houston State University; Jerrels graduated from Texas A&M. They’ve emphasized the importance of a college education to the young men and women in Youth Refinery.
“We’ve taken them on different college tours, just so they can see that what’s out there, what the different majors are, the avenues they can explore,” Cloud said.
The mentors have taken the local students to Sam Houston State University, University of Houston and University of Texas San Antonio.
“In addition to that we meet with them on Saturdays,” Jerrels said. “We do job interview prep, work on resumes, just how to tie a tie.”
The organization funds scholarships and hosts community events and volunteer opportunities.
The program consistently has about a dozen students and maxes out at about 17 or 18 participants, Hall said. The group is led by Sealy High School senior Diari Dabney. They meet every other Saturday for about an hour or two.
For more information, visit youthrefinery.org.