Students welcomed on first day

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
From the left, Glen Harris, the Rev. Dr. Charles Lamont Pinkett Sr., and Jonathan Harris welcomed a student entering Sandy Hill Elementary School for the first day of classes on Tuesday. The men were there as part of a rally organized by the Eastern Shore Network for Change.

CAMBRIDGE – There was a red carpet, velvet ropes, cheering and high fives from rows of men for students entering Sandy Hill Elementary on Tuesday.
Not bad for the first day of school, not bad at all.
The Eastern Shore Network for Change (ESNC) organized the men’s back-to-school rally not only to encourage the children as they begin another academic year, but also to demonstrate that local men are involved and concerned.
“This is showing that the men really care about our kids,” Kisha Petticolas said. She and Dion Banks lead the ESNC and organized the event, in coordination with school leaders.
Sandy Hill Principal Vaughn Evans addressed a packed room of participants in the Judy Center, prior to the group’s marching across the campus to Sandy Hill. “You all are champions for kids, so we certainly appreciate what you do,” he told the men.
The ESNC was founded in 2012. A written statement on social media says, “We will raise awareness to issues and creatively work with the community to inform and educate through collaborative problem solving.”
About 50 people, mostly men, turned out bright and early to cheer the children.
“We’re very excited. This is a potential volunteer base,” Ms. Petticolas said, as the group made its way over to Sandy Hill in the minutes before buses began to arrive. “It shows that our community is ready to rally.”
Board of Education member Philip Rice – whose daughter Holly is a teacher at the school – was there to welcome the children, something he felt was important for the first day of the year.
“When you go someplace, don’t you like someone to greet you?” he said. “It’s really an impression, a feeling.”
A written statement from Dorchester County Public Schools reminded the participants that there will be plenty of need for them in the months to come, saying, “You are sending an important message to students: Real men value education! There are opportunities to reinforce this message throughout the school year by volunteering in a school. We need men to work with children to improve their reading, as well as Character Coaches to deliver character education messages to elementary and middle school students. If you can help, contact Valerie Goff at goffv@dcpsmd.org or 410-4747 ext. 1008.”
To learn about ESNC, visit their website www.esnccambridgemd.org.
So there’s plenty to do, for adults and children. But maybe Jonathan Harris got to the heart of it all.
As children walked past, high-fiving the men, a smiling Mr. Harris said, “I’m just out here to support the community.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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