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Debonair Project 'perfect fit' for ASMSA students | Community Spirit

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Debonair Project 'perfect fit' for ASMSA students
Debonair Project 'perfect fit' for ASMSA students

HOT SPRINGS — During a Residence Life Office staff meeting at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts last year, DeKevious Wilson listened as his fellow staff members spoke about the upcoming 2012 prom.


At one point, the school’s Cinderella Project was discussed. The program provides donated prom dresses for an affordable price for female ASMSA students.


“I sat and thought ‘O.K. I’ve heard of the Cinderella Project that they do for the females,’ and I was waiting to hear something for the males,” said Wilson, who served his first year as a residential mentor during the 2011-12 school year. “When I didn’t hear anything, it kind of struck something with me, knowing a lot of the students might not have the means to rent a tux or buy a suit.”


That was when the DeKevious Wilson Debonair Project was born.


Through the project, Wilson collects clothing — suits, shirts, ties, pocket squares, belts, socks, shoes — he then gives to male students. While the project began as a counterpart to the Cinderella Project for prom, Wilson said the male students can receive the clothing for many purposes.


“I’m trying to not only help our students go to prom, but to help our male students look professional when they go to Rotary or Interact (a youth club sponsored by Rotary International) or college interviews. And just to feel good in general about themselves, because when you put on great looking clothes, it makes you feel better as a person. It’s just reinvesting in our male students,” he said.


Students get to choose and keep the clothing at no cost to them.


Wilson said he found inspiration for the program in how he was raised. He learned early in life how important it is to dress well. One of the earliest photos Wilson remembers of himself is his grandfather, dressed in his Sunday best, holding Wilson as a baby.


“I was always taught if you have one black suit and two button-ups of a different color and different ties you can change the world. I feel like we need to teach our young guys that,” he said.


He said the staff and student reaction has been very good, including some students donating clothing. Wilson said he has also received support from his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers, his pastor, ASMSA faculty members and students’ parents.


“The response has been great. I have spent several weekends traveling to pick up clothing,” he said.


Wilson specifically recognized one faculty member and two parents for their help. He said Ernestine Ross, a humanities instructor at the school, and Sandra Gilmore and Martha Carson, both members of the ASMSA Parents Association, have provided a great amount of support in getting the project off the ground.


“These women have been like the backbone in supporting my desires and my dreams to work with the students on this project. From day one they have always been supportive, sending emails or text messages and even clothes. … Those three women have been my angels,” he said.


ASMSA will hold its prom April 27, but Wilson said he will continue to accept donations throughout the year for the program. For more information or to donate clothing, contact Wilson at wilsond@asmsa.org.