By Greg Gelpi
Seth Anderson and Brandon Hopper had melted into the crowds of students at Lovejoy High School, wearing the typical untucked button-up shirt and jeans.
That was until the students joined the school's Kappa League, a national service program of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Along with about 45 other members of the club, Anderson and Hopper don coats and ties and even suits, clothes formerly reserved for church on Sunday, each Wednesday.
"It's like a higher standard; people look up to us," Anderson, a 16-year-old junior, said. "To be a leader, you have to sacrifice."
And leadership and developing leaders is what the Kappa League is all about, Assistant Principal Chris Johnson, the director of the club, said. The club for young men ushers students through five phases of training, including community service and other aspects of being a "gentleman." To continue to develop into gentlemen, the Kappa League will even be learning etiquette next week, running through the uses and placement of silverware.
"When young men are dressed up in a shirt and tie, they act differently," he said. "It started out as a shirt and tie. It's now a full suit. We want them to look their best and be their best as much as possible."
Elements of each of the club's biweekly meetings are respect and the qualities of a gentleman, discussions which are led by the students, Johnson said.
"There's a need in this area for this kind of group," Johnson said, sitting in his office with walls lined with Kappa Alpha Psi, Kappa League, U.S. Marine Corps and education awards. "A lot of groups out there are reactive. This one is not. It's proactive."
Hopper, 18, said that since joining Kappa League, his grades have improved as has his public speaking and other weak areas. The club requires students to maintain good grades in order to remain active in the club.
"It's a ray of hope for everybody, and I want to be a part of it," Anderson said. "I see how teachers and people in the community respect leaders."
The Lovejoy High Kappa League began in August and is one of four such clubs in metro Atlanta, Johnson said.
"We're very proud that we've been nominated as Kappa League Chapter of the Year in our first year," he said, calling it the best of the four chapters that he has helped found.
Johnson has also been nominated for Director of the Year, and Anderson has been nominated for Member of the Year. The club was also invited by Six Flags Over Georgia to demonstrate their step show. The club has already won awards at both step shows it has competed in.
Earlier this month, the Georgia Senate adopted a resolution commending the Stockbridge-Jonesboro Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity of which Lovejoy High's Kappa League is a part.