EWING, N.J. (WPVI) -- At the Hollowbrook Community Center in Ewing, New Jersey a few weeks back, 18 honorees from the Trenton Chapter of the Urban League Union County Guild practiced for the "Gentlemen's Ball" with their partners, working hard on their dance steps.
The annual event is a twist on a debutante ball honoring young black men, all local seniors in high school, who have been selected for their excellence in academics, extracurricular activities and community service.
"To honor them and show we have great young men in our community, contrary to what the narrative may seem to be," says Kevin Baxter, Ewing Township Council President.
Trenton Central High School senior Messiah Cook, who's interested in forensic science and looking to pursue a career in criminal justice, says he feels honored to be a part of it.
"It just shows that every man or male figure in this area doesn't have to become a statistic. You can do better in life," Messiah says.
Over months of practice, the young men learn about etiquette, but also get a chance to talk with each other and Gentlemen's Ball alumni about life.
"We meet outside of the dances, we bond, we do things that really unite us and teaches us that we can be brothers even if we don't go to scohol or see each other every day," says Craig Wren.
"It is like a team, we all uplift each other, we all bring up each other and help each other when we can," Zaire McNeese says.
Then at the Hyatt in Princeton, it's showtime.
Dressed to the nines, they make their grand entrance one by one, with an announcement of their accomplishments and goals.
Each mom is presented with a rose, a special moment with her son.
And it seems balance on the dance floor and in life are the key, as these young men grace the ballroom and prepare to head out to a bright future in the world.
High school seniors take part in 'Gentlemen's Ball'