“I was honored to be in the company of these future leaders and pledge to assist them in any way I personally can.”
— WRAL-TV retiree Clarence Williams
When Corp Director of Content Andrea Osborne saw The Sir Walters at their debut at the A.B. Combs Elementary Leadership Day in April, she immediately thought of WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Ken Smith and retired WRAL-TV Producer/Director Clarence Williams. The young men, working hard to be courteous, helpful and welcoming to the Leadership Day guests, had donned bow ties and were absolutely dressed for success, mini-me versions of the two WRAL icons.
She knew she had to get these boys and these two amazing mentors together.
The Sir Walters group is a new club at the school. As Combs Magnet Coordinator Juley Sexton explained, “The Sir Walters at A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh works to build social etiquette and social graces with young men. They are provided real world opportunities to practice their manners such as greeting others, how to interact in social situations, and how to make a positive first impression.”
The boys created the club name inspired by Sir Walter Raleigh. The boys explained that once Sir Walter had put his cape over a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth could walk over it. They want to follow the example of the namesake of our city.
“I was so impressed by these boys and their commitment to bettering themselves,” said Osborne. “They had obviously worked hard to look their best on Leadership Day, and they had impeccable manners. I wanted to reward their efforts and to encourage them to continue on this wonderful path.”
Smith and Williams were immediately on board when Osborne approached them about coming to the school to meet with the boys. And Combs Principal Muriel Summers was absolutely thrilled at the prospect.
On Monday, May 23, 2016, the two men came to Combs to visit with The Sir Walters. They shared their life experiences and encouraged the young men.
“They discussed the importance of making good choices, respecting others, and how to face adversity when it comes their way,” said Sexton. “Ken Smith and Clarence Williams shared their own school experiences, how they achieved success, and even left a bowtie for each Sir Walter to proudly wear.”
Dressed their best, the boys got a chance to ask questions of the WRAL duo, inquiring about their least and most favorite subjects in school and what challenges they had faced and overcome.
After the meet-up both Smith and Williams raved about The Sir Walters, impressed with the young men.
“I was honored to be in the company of these future leaders and pledge to assist them in any way I personally can,” said Williams. “They come from various countries but are united in their desire to become caring, courteous role models. They are a credit to their parents, teachers, Wake County and themselves! Thank you Principal Summers for creating and directing this program and providing us the opportunity to meet them.”
Smith tweeted a photo of him and Williams with the boys, saying, “Meet the best of Wake County Schools at A.B. Combs Elementary; young men of the Sir Walters, taking courtesy to a new level and leading by example! So proud of these young men!”
Both men are now sharing the story of these young men who are striving to do their best.
“I was the guest speaker for a scholarship program Tuesday evening and I couldn’t help but share the story about Ms. Summers and the Sir Walters,” said Smith.
Williams and Smith gave freely of their time to encourage and mentor the young men. The school staff was over the moon, rolling out the red carpet for the WRAL pair.
“Watching Ken and Clarence with The Sir Walters was a life highlight for me,” said Osborne. “They inspired these young men to keep working toward their goals and how courtesy and kindness can take you far. So, so thankful they were willing to come spend part of their morning being an inspiration.”