Jack and Jill Beautillion, in their own words
This year was one of change for the Jack and Jill Beautillion. The new venue and elaborate decor were nice, but the best part was forgoing the lengthy reading of each honoree’s accomplishments — information contained in the souvenir journal — and instead having each young man deliver a few words that reflected his goals, aspirations or view of the world.
Their remarks gave moving testimony not only to who they are today, but insight into the game-changers they will become.
Elijah Blake, for example, said he looked forward to a day when the world can happily “embrace brown skin and curly hair.” Joshua Coleman noted that his peers are given the choice to improve or settle, “And I’m not willing to settle.”
Diondre Johnson pointed out that becoming a Beau made him realize, “I am somebody,” while Charles Green-Worshum credited God for enabling him to rise from humble circumstances, “To being celebrated for (my) accomplishments.”
Joel Campbell pledged to do what he can to reverse negative stereotypes; Allah’Jah Mujib said his goal is to “Gain the skills to change the world.”
In the end, it was obvious there is no one size fits all phrase to describe the 23 high school seniors presented at the 33rd edition of this black-tie event held at the Marriott City Center and chaired by Toshia Cowans, Simone Ross and Deirdre Wilson.
Other than the fact that they are, as the co-chairs noted, “Men of dignity, grace and strength.” The honorees, who were nominated by their high school principals or counselors, pretty much came into the Beautillion as a group of strangers but wound up their experience with strong bonds of friendship.
“I love these guys so much,” said East High senior Joseph Abiakam. “At first I felt a bit tentative because I didn’t know what to expect. So I’d have to say that the progression of our friendships has been the best part.”
Abiakam hopes to attend Hampton University on a basketball scholarship.
The Beautillion experience also includes a service project — this year, a tour of Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood followed by a community cleanup effort that involved picking up trash, removing graffiti and painting dumpsters — and an essay contest.
The latter was won by East High’s Langston Shupe-Diggs, who also was the regional winner of Destination Imagination. His college plans call for becoming an anthropology major at either the University of HawaiiManoa or the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Masters of ceremony for the 2016 Beautillion were Matthew Burkett, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of The Flyfisher Group, and Manual High School principal Nickolas Dawkins.
In addition to those already mentioned, they also introduced fellow honorees William Clay, a three-year member of Cherokee Trail High School’s honor roll; Charles Davis, the recipient of multiple Good Citizenship awards at Smoky Hill High School; Evan Edmondson, a Rangeview High senior who has given 150 hours of community service per year for the past two years; Morgan Fuller, a senior at Alexander Dawson High who had the honor of being a summer research scholar in engineering at UCLA; and Elijah Grant, a Smoky Hill senior and recipient of the John Lynch Award for Academics, Athletics and Community Service.
Also, Jalen Meeks, who plays varsity basketball at Cherry Creek High and is president of the Top Teens of America; Isaac Nellum, a Mayor’s Youth Award recipient from East High; Abdul Neville, a rugby letterman and registered USA Rugby referee from East High; Matthew Perry, a member of the Angelaires honors choir at East High; Josiah Peters, the 20162017 head boy at East; and Kalif President, the recipient of four Outstanding Achievement awards for academics at Cherokee Trail High School.
And, Joshua Ross, an honor roll student at Rangeview High; Izaiah Rouse, who maintains a 3.5 grade point average at Cherokee Trail; Aaron Tate, a two-time football letterman and founder of the League of Leadership at East High; and Maurice Wyatt, a threeyear football letterman and honor roll student at Smoky Hill High.
Beaus dance with their escorts at the 2016 Beautillion, presented by the Denver Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Photos by Steve Peterson, Special to The Denver Post
Representing Denver Public Schools: Michael Johnson, Eddie Koen, Danielle Harris, Debbie Staten and Renard Simmons.
Evan Edmondson, Langston Shupe-Diggs and Elijah Grant.
Abdul Neville with escort Mikayla Zeigler.
Emcees Matthew Burkett and Nick Dawkins.
Maurice Wyatt and Tyler Speller.