Building on the principals of the successful MyPower program for middle school girls in Hobbs, two staff members at Heizer Middle School are bringing a similar effort to boys in the same age group.
Project XY is the brainchild of Daleen Evelo, parent attendance liaison at Heizer, and Jessica Ramirez, the school’s social worker. The idea behind the program — named for the XY male chromosome — is to motivate the boys to think beyond today.
“We see boy’s needs at a very basic level,” Evelo said. “We see they have a lack of personnel investment in their own lives.
“By closing any social gaps they may have, we can help them transition into adulthood,” she said. “To begin with the end (goal) in mind, to have a plan for their future.”
As part of their jobs, Evelo and Ramirez routinely visit students and their families at home. While there, they saw a glaring lack of support in some homes. There appeared to be no motivation in the homes to inspire the boys to think about a better future, Ramirez said.
“We worry about the day-to-day — do the kids make it to school, do they have clothes, do they have food?” Ramirez said. “But they’re also missing being motivated. Project XY wants to meet that need our students have to think bigger, to aspire to something.”
Only in place at Heizer Middle School right now, Project XY has only been in operation a couple of months. Like MyPower for the girls, Project XY hosts regular assemblies for the boys — the group’s second was Nov. 17 — with guest speakers presenting information on a variety of topics.
At last week’s assembly, for example, 1st Sgt. Anthony Castillo of the Texas National Guard and Alfredo Turrubiates, principal at Hobbs High School and an Army combat veteran, shared information about the American flag and their experiences with the military in Afghanistan.
“When we talk about the flag, we’re talking about our ideals, our principals, associated with the flag,” Castillo told the boys. “That’s what gives us meaning.
“It’s also a reminder of the men and women who’ve given a lot for their country,” he said. “It’s also a reminder of our … history.”
Evelo said Project XY, while distinct and separate, is definitely learning from the success of the MyPower group.
“We’re similar, but we’re very different,” Evelo said. “After all, boys and girls are very different at that age.”
Moving forward, the plan is for monthly large-group assemblies, each covering a different topic. The women are also planning to institute a series of small-group gatherings, bringing in strong male role models to teach and inspire the boys, Ramirez said.
And, also building on the MyPower model, there will eventually be discussions on preventing teen pregnancy in the Project XY program.
“After all, the responsibility is on both parties,” Ramirez said. “We need to make our boys knowledgeable about having responsibility and integrity, being more thoughtful about their future and the consequences of their actions.
“We want to instill the fact they have a future, goals,” she said. “And choices have consequences that may become obstacles in achieving those goals.”
For now, Evelo and Ramirez are working to recruit students into Project XY and inform parents about the project. They’re also recruiting community resources and men to become the needed role models and mentors to move the program forward. Evelo and Ramirez believe Project XY can have a positive impact not only on students, but on the entire community, they said.
“Depending on the support we get from the students, the parents, the community, this is something I believe could have a big impact,” Ramirez said. “Not only on the school system but on our community and possibly go further than that.
“It’s not only Heizer (Middle School) or Hobbs that need this,” Ramirez said. “This is something every boy needs. Young people need someone to guide them.”
Individuals or groups interested in getting involved in Project XY can contact Ramirez through Heizer Middle School or via email at.