By Dedra Cordle
In Vaughn Klein’s after-school club, The League of Gentlemen, there is always talk about superheroes. They debate whose powers are superior, they discuss the best movie portrayal, and they muse about what it would be like to be super-charged.
“I think it’d be cool,” said Gabriel Crossley.
Their constant chatter about these comic book icons could be because they meet in Klein’s classroom where the second grade teacher at Monterey Elementary has decorated his space with Batman regalia. Or it could be related to their strong interest in what they read between the pages of a book or see on the big screen. But even though the discussion eventually gets around to a lamentation of the fact they do not share in the super abilities of their heroes, they are aware that they too are trying to make a positive impact on the world.
“We’re here to help people,” said Andrew Martinez.
The inspiration behind the League of Gentlemen, which incorporates more than discussions about superheroes, struck several years ago when Klein was doing research for his master’s degree.
“One of the greatest things about going for your master’s is that so many professional articles are available for you to read,” said the fifth-year teacher.
While going through the material, he came across methods that have been used to enhance a school’s mission and then, by chance, stumbled upon a school in another state that had established a club for young men whose goal was to help them cultivate a love for acts of kindness through community service.
“I wanted to try to replicate that for our school,” said Klein.
Upon receiving permission to form the club, Klein began to reach out to area businesses and organizations to see if they would be interested in hosting a group of boys who were looking to do some good in the world through community service projects.
Quinten Smith, the co-owner and administrator of the assisted living facility Hoover Haus, said it was an offer they could not refuse.
“I thought it was a brilliant idea,” he said.
On a select day for the past two years in the month of May, members of the League of Gentlemen have been coming to Hoover Haus, dressed in their finest with buttoned-up shirts, ties, vests, pressed pants and some polished shoes, to meet with the residents who call Hoover Haus their home.
On a typical visit, the members help residents plant or pot flowers, but Smith said it is the interaction between the two generations that means so much to those involved.
“They’re breaking down barriers,” he said.
Smith added that when he announced to the residents that the League of Gentlemen would be making their third annual visit on May 22, smiles and cheers rang out.
“They just love having them here,” he said.
It was a sentiment shared by several young gentlemen.
“Going there (to the Hoover Haus) is one of my favorite things about being in this club,” said Martinez, 10, who has been a member since the club formed three years ago. “I love talking to and helping them.”
Third grader Shawn Lehr, who became a member this year, said going to Hoover Haus is something he looks forward to experiencing for himself.
“If it’s anything like we did today,” he said, referring to the flower and vegetation planting session at the school on May 8, “I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.”
Though the League of Gentlemen has only been around for less than five years, and even though they only meet three times in May, the students say being a part of the club has already left an impression on them personally.
“It makes me want to do more good things,” said Crossley.
Klein said he was happy to hear the positive words from the young gentlemen.
“The goals I had for this club was not only for these boys to have fun, but I wanted them to learn self-value and the importance of being kind and respectful to others,” he said.
“They are, in their own way,” he added, “doing something heroic.”