Dozens of fathers – and some mothers, too – lined Orange County’s sidewalks Monday morning to cheer as they sent their students off for their first day of school.
The local event, organized by Sherita Cobb, the district’s director of student support, was part of the national Million Father March program that started in 2004. Million Father March co-founder Phillip Jackson recently noted about 500 communities signed up for this year’s event.
It was exciting for parents and students, Cobb said, even those who were a little timid about going to school for the first time.
“We had a parent at Central Elementary that stated that she was very excited,” she said. “She was in tears. It was her son’s first day of kindergarten and she said it was just the best day ever for him, because as they come down the line, they’re high-fiving and people are patting them on the back — good job, you’ve got this, this is going to be a great school year — so that gets the kids excited.”
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Orange County also participated in last year’s march, along with schools in Durham and Wake counties. Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina was one of the few that joined this year’s event.
The celebration also included Orange County’s middle schools, Cobb said, including Grady Brown students, who got a visit from the Cedar Ridge High School football team.
But “not at the high schools. They’re older and not as easily excited about school,” she said. “The seniors, we could probably get them to be hyped and excited.”
Rep. Graig Meyer was among the fathers who came out to cheer on the A.L. Stanback students. He posted a video of fathers clapping, cheering and giving high-fives to students as they exited their school bus.
It was an excellent start to the school year, Stanback Principal Jeffrey Rachlin said.
“For the kids, they’re waking up after sleeping in all summer and seeing all these dads and folks cheering them on, and they’re lined up on either side welcoming them into the building,” he said. “It just starts them off on the right foot, and our hope is for them to know that they’re transitioning from one home to another.”