The troubled teens of the Boys Club Network play “Man Up” performed before two full houses at the Aldergrove Secondary School dramnasium last week. The play, based on the true story of the Boys Club founded at Vancouver’s Templeton Secondary School 10 years ago, is a hard-hitting account of “gang life.”

‘Man Up’ play seeks hope

The choices we make as youths will affect our lives as adults — provided that we live long enough to become adults.

The choices we make as youths will affect our lives as adults — provided that we live long enough to become adults.

That is the message of a Boys Club Network (BCN) play which made its debut before the entire cohort of Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS) on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 22.

Called “Man Up,” the reality stage play was presented to two 400-person audiences at ACSS, with grades 11 and 12 in the morning and the grades 9 and 10 classes in the afternoon.

The afternoon performance also included several special guests — BCN founding patron Frank Giustra and funding patron Ian McIntosh, as well as members of the recently founded Boys Club at Clearbrook’s W.J. Mouat Secondary School.

Giustra and McIntosh, both of whom graduated from ACSS, also spoke to the audience about their inspiration and motivation to achieve great goals in their lives despite their humble beginnings. They both said that supporting the growing Boys Club movement from its beginnings 10 years ago at Templeton Secondary in Vancouver’s east side was their way of giving back to the mentors who had helped redirect their lives — and to inspire the boys at risk today.

“We’ve had wonderful successful lives, but a lot of our friends didn’t,” said Giustra, who is a successful entrepreneur with Fiore Financial Corporation.

“We could get away with anything in school, we had a lot of people who were supportive, but once we get out into the real world no one gives a darn. You have to learn how to best help yourself.”

Giustra said that in high school “my marks were horrific… I didn’t have proper guidance, anyone who cared, but I was lucky, I had an epiphany, decided to seek post-secondary education.”

Giustra said a book called “Think and Grow Rich” was his inspiration: “It had a simple message … if you truly believe in yourself you will do it, anything is possible.”

The play is a hard-hitting 60 minutes of reality theatre, telling the true story of four teenaged boys trying to find their way in a world with a lack of positive male role models and filled with negative influences such as drugs and gangs.

One of the actors, Dzinh Nguyen was one of the students at Vancouver’s Templeton Secondary 18 years ago who had drifted into gang life. He plays his true-life role in the play, telling his story of how he escaped the gang life because of the supportive Boys Club at Templeton.

The Boys Club was founded in 2006 by Templeton school administrator Walter Mustapich and fine arts department head Jim Crescenzo, who also wrote the play. Today the BCN operates independently as a registered charity, serving at-risk young men in Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Abbotsford and Courtenay high schools.

Drawing from BCN services, including mentorship, programs and a scholarship program, over 95 per cent of BCN members experience personal and academic success, graduate high school with hope and a plan for the future.

Ian McIntosh, who graduated from ACSS 50 years ago and went on to found Kirmac Collision and Autoglass, said he had a lot of “really good memories” of his time at ACSS.

“Aldergrove was a simple place to grow up, but it had great values,” said McIntosh.

“If you wanted something you had to work for it, and at the end of the day it’s the choices you make about who you want to be.”

He related how in motor racing a successful driver should “always look at where you want to go, not the corner coming up but the exit to that corner, otherwise you’ll be in the wrong position to exit.

“Too often we fixate on the negative, looking at where we’re going instead of where you want to go. If you’re looking at where you want to go you’ll probably get there.”

The “Man Up” play was presented at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa on Nov. 29, followed by presentations at Ottawa high schools and presentations are planned at New York high schools in the spring.

For information on BCN see the website:

1976 ACSS alumnus Frank Giustra speaking to ACSS audience.



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