IRVINE — Fifteen high school boys were recognized Saturday for being the first "graduates" of the Rites of Passage class, the first leg of a four-year program that teaches African American cultural pride and tracks the education progress of the participants.
Conceived by the 100 Black Men of Orange County, Rites of Passage is part of the civic organization's Passport to the Future program, which seeks to build the self-esteem, academic excellence and work ethic of selected students throughout their high school years.
Passport to the Future was launched in January. During the Rites of Passage phase, the participants--all freshmen--were required to attend three-hour classes once a month. Discussions, led by black community and business leaders, focused on such topics as self-awareness, cultural history, leadership and social responsibility.
"We are very proud of these boys," said Ron Coley, president of the 100 Black Men. "One of the things we want to teach in this program is commitment, and by completing this part of the program, they show that they have it."