Published On: Tue, Sep 8th, 2015

70 Fathers, Other Significant Males Welcome Village Students Back on First Day of School

By Don Stephens

DELRAY BEACH- When Kevin Thompson showed up to school Monday morning, he expected to be greeted by his teachers and maybe his principal – not 70 men who were there to welcome students as they returned for the first day of classes.

“This was a surprise and exciting,” Thompson, 16, said. “I have never seen anything like this and been greeted like this. Seeing all of these adults greet us on our first day back makes me want to strive harder in school.”

The students at Village Academy were smiling from ear to ear as they walked through the main door and saw the love and support from the men of their community. There were police officers, fire fighters, several city employees, retirees and a host of other private sector workers. The men, in two rows, gave high-fives and cheered the students as they walked between them. The scene resembled that of an athlete running through a tunnel and being greeted by many cheering fans.

“It’s all about the community and I am overjoyed with the overwhelming support shown today by the community of Delray Beach,” Assistant Chief of Police Javaro Sims said.  “We are a village and today the love was shown by our males.”

Parent Maurice Hayes was impressed by the grand reception as he took his daughter, Tahja Hayes, to school.

“It is both shocking and exciting to see that all of these men care enough to come out and support our kids,” Hayes said. “I definitely would have loved to have fathers greet me like this on my first day of school.”

Monday’s event was an initiative of the national Million Fathers March, an opportunity for men to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children on the first day of school and throughout the school year.

Research shows that students with involved fathers score higher on cognitive tests, have higher self-esteem and possess abilities associated with higher education achievement, Principal LaToya Dixon said.

Dixon identified the need to improve parental involvement at Village Academy this school year and Monday’s initiative addressed that need.

“It is extremely important for these kids to see male role models greeting them on their first day of school,” Dixon said. “Some of these students do not have father figures and seeing these men gives them someone to look up to. We look forward to working more closely with our fathers this year to ensure student success!”

The men will be invited to volunteer or attend activities throughout the year, organizers said.

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