Parents often asked Darrell Edmonds, 34, to mentor their teenage sons, and one of the first things the Oakcrest High School teen center director would teach them was how to tie a necktie.

“No one had ever taught them,” said Edmonds, who runs the center for AtlantiCare Behavioral Health. “When you put on a tie, you are all about business. You are stepping up your game some.”

He encouraged kids to start wearing ties to school on Fridays. Now, his nonprofit is named Friday is Tie Day Inc., which celebrates its one-year anniversary March 19 with a fundraiser at Cousin Mario’s restaurant in Mays Landing. The concept has spread to other high schools in the region.

Students wear ties once a week and meet once a month to help each other become more responsible men, Edmonds said. Last summer, they did a “menternship,” in which they learned job skills and sold T-shirts they designed. They also visited colleges, he said.

His nonprofit also runs the All Pro Dad group at the Joseph C. Shaner School in Mays Landing.

“We encourage spending more meaningful time with children,” he said. “We’ve had a really good response, with more than 100 dads attending our first meeting in January.” He said several other schools have asked him to start similar groups, and he is working on funding to do that.

Edmonds has a daughter, Olivia, 10, and said his dad, Jesse Edmonds Jr., of Egg Harbor City, was an outstanding father who was school board president for years.

To learn more or buy a bow tie to support the organization, visit www.fridayistieday.com.

Edmonds and several other Hamilton Township residents will be honored for their community work at a free Black History Month dinner, open to all and sponsored by the Multicultural Interest Club, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Oakcrest High School, 1824 Dr. Dennis Forman Drive, Mays Landing.

Other honorees are the Rev. Ethel Gaylord, a community organizer; Kimberly Melton, first lady of New Harvest Christian Fellowship Church; and Hamilton Township Committeeman Rod Guishard.

Wildwood’s top speller goes national

Fifth-grader Ezequiel Palacios will represent Glenwood Avenue Elementary School in Wildwood’s first-time participation in the Scripps National Spelling Bee program.

Palacios correctly spelled shiatsu, a form of Japanese massage, to win the school spelling bee Feb. 20, a school representative said. He now heads to the South Jersey Regional Spelling Bee on March 22 at Galloway Township Middle School.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219

Worked as a reporter for various weekly newspapers in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties before joining The Press many moons (and editors) ago as a business copy editor. Passionate about journalism, averse to serial commas.