CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The morning of Tuesday, Nov. 23 saw men in the community near University Meadows Elementary celebrating students as they walked into school.
A group of men with Oak Grove Baptist Church participated in a “clap-in” outside the school as students arrived for the day.
“We’re welcoming our students,” said Constance Danner, the assistant principal at the school. “We’re letting them know we support them. We’re letting them know that we’re here for them.”
James Alsop, a member of the church, was among those who stood outside the school, greeting students as they were dropped off.
"They can do and be anything they want in life, and I'm a product of that,” Alsop said. “I was told I would not amount to anything in life and thank God, He watched over me, and I was the first in my family to go to college."
The event is part of the plan at University Meadows Elementary to engage the community and families in helping students achieve success.
School principal Bilal Tawwab said fathers were even asked to walk their children to class Tuesday morning and be part of this special day.
"It has a lasting impact to know that their communities are behind them,” Tawwab said. “How many stories have you heard of students who have been successful, and they've mentioned their communities and how their communities supported them, people understood what they can become and they helped lift them?"
Every student received a warm welcome, with community partners especially focusing on the impact they can make as role models to young men.
"They need to see themselves,” Danner said. “They need to see themselves in a positive manner. They need to see themselves helping others. They need to see themselves striving to be their best."
Between the dance moves, the clapping, and the greetings on their way to class, school leaders said they hope students feel the excitement and support from the community as they start their day and strive for success in the classroom and in life.
“I hope that they can have productive futures, productive lives,” Danner said. “I hope that they will be able to function in this society. I hope that they will be able to make wise choices.”