Making Men of Honor

Men of Honor, an organization at Cypress Springs High School, mentors young men to become respectable role models of the community

Written by Marysabel Cardozo | Photography courtesy of Cy-Fair ISD

Cypress, TX News – When Antonio Briones, a class of 2014 graduate, walked into his first Men of Honor meeting, he never thought it would change his views, values, and way of life. Coming from a family of divorced parents, an absentee mother, and a father who was always working, Briones had no one to confide in. “Growing up, I never had someone telling me what’s right,” Briones says.

Despite joining the wrestling team, Briones didn’t fully find a sense of belonging until he became an active member of Men of Honor. It was the first time he didn’t feel alone. There was someone to ask him, “What’s wrong?” and a chance for him to let go of the anger he had held onto for so long. “[There’s] no judgment, no hate, no discrimination.” Briones says. “You go into a room, and you are brothers.”

CFM_F_14_Men of Honor_Cypress Creek sophomore Emil Dillon meets Cedrick Young of Crane Worldwide Logistics during Thousand Guys in Ties_submission

Cy Creek student Emil Dillon has the opportunity to meet Crane Worldwide Logistics executive, Cedrick Young, at a Men of Honor event

Getting Started

The organization was started in 2008 by assistant principal Clay Smith, with help from a few faculty members. After talking to students, Smith realized few had strong male mentors in their lives, sparking the idea for Men of Honor. “I saw the need,” Smith says. “I know it takes a strong male mentor influence to raise a man.”

Men of Honor has mentored about 150 members in its five years. They have held various events, hoping to teach the members useful skills and ethics. Some of the activities include a fishing trip, an auto-mechanics session, mentoring kids at Andre’ Elementary, and special events such as a father and son breakfast, How to Tie a Tie, and 1,000 Guys in Ties. They also have discussions where the participants can express their thoughts and feelings.

Darius Welch, a fellow wrestler to Briones and class of 2014 alum, says he will never forget any of the messages, especially the concept of how you see yourself. “Going back to ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ people are going to judge regardless, so I want my cover to be amazing,” Welch says.

Assistant principal Clay Smith, right, and campus police officer Faladrick Brown thank members of the Cypress Springs Men of Honor

Assistant principal Clay Smith and campus police officer Faladrick Brown, thank members of the group for their dedication

Guys in Ties

Their biggest event is called 1,000 Guys in Ties, in which the young men dress up and enjoy guest speakers who discuss their life stories and principles. Cy Springs’ officer Faladrick Brown came up with the idea 14 years ago as a teacher, calling it, “Men’s Day.” He hoped the Men of Honor could just mimic what he had been doing for so long. The students did much more than mimic, initiating success through hard work. “Getting these guys on board was the key to it,” Brown says. “Every detail, these guys took ownership over it.”

Since their school’s first 1,000 Guys in Ties in 2013, they have been contacted by other high schools and middle schools to get the event going at their campus. Cy Creek hosted their first 1,000 Guys in Ties this year. Both Smith and Brown hope to see 1,000 Guys in Ties and the organization itself permeate through out the district. “I think if we could get 10,000 guys in ties at the Berry Center, we’d be able to make a true difference in the young men in Cy-Fair ISD,” Smith says.

Former University of Texas running back and Jersey Village High School graduate Selvin Young speaks with Cypress Springs students

Former University of Texas running back and Jersey Village High School graduate Selvin Young speaks with Cypress Springs students

New Mindset, New Goals

The true satisfaction for the sponsors and mentors involved is in the change seen among its members. Though they know they still have much to learn about how to be a man, both Briones and Welch feel they have a solid foundation thanks to the group. Briones, who plans to attend Lone Star College before enlisting in the Marine Corps, attributes the organization for his aspiration to motivate others. “I could go on all day about how Men of Honor has changed me, but in short, it made me selfless,” Briones says. Welch credits his mentors for instilling perseverance in him, as he plans to succeed in the business aspect of music. “Failure is not an option for me,” Welch says. “I’m going to make excellence a habit.” CFM

MARYSABEL CARDOZO is a Cypress Woods alumna. She is sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in journalism.