While on Thursday, Feb. 6, female members of POPS were busy making feminine hygiene kits that eventually will be shipped to the Republic of Malawi, Africa, next door on the second floor of the Bartow Library the males were busy learning one particular social skill. They were being taught how to knot a necktie, whether a slip knot, Windsor or half-Windsor.
As they listened to the instructions provided by brothers Carver and Ronald Young, the young men discovered that knotting a tie, even using the simplest of knots, the slip knot, was not so easy. Over and over they practiced, most times not getting the result they wanted.
But they persisted. Eventually, one by one, the male teens appeared to have mastered the basics. As they did, the knots they made grew sharper and tighter.
The purpose to learning how to tie a knot in a necktie is an important one, according to Gwen Young, with POPS. She said that quite often, the young men in the room attend award ceremonies, so it is important they know how to knot a tie. In addition, they make a better presentation of themselves when in public and applying for jobs.
In essence, it builds confidence, and it showed that day. While the room was filled with laughter over the gaffes they made, little by little, as each became more proficient, a quiet self-assuredness began to manifest. They stood a bit taller, a bit prouder, as they showed off their new-found skill.
“This is the first time I’ve ever knotted a tie,” said Dexter Morrison, 15, of Lake Wales. “Before, I used clip-ons.”
Professional Opportunities Program for Students, Inc. (POPS) is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) organization founded by Florida State Senator Gary Siplin in February, 2001, who had a dream to provide summer job opportunities to high school students in his community and he began that dream with five students in the community. By 2008, POPS received a grant from the Department of Education to provide a year-round program that included mentorship, life skills workshops, community service and paid internships. By 2010, POPS was expanded into six additional cities: Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Pahokee/Belle Glade, St. Petersburg, Bartow/Lake Wales and Ft. Lauderdale.
The mission of POPS is to provide personal and professional development for teenagers who face social, economic or environmental barriers that may impact the quality of their lives. The goal of the POPS Program is to prepare the student for future success. POPS’ work is rooted in collaboration among students, parents, schools, and community and business leaders. POPS’ focus is to assist the students in the completion of high school, motivate them to pursue advanced education and obtain gainful employment. (Source: POPs website: www.popsinc.org)