MONTCLAIR, NJ - Students at Hillside Elementary School in Montclair had a special welcome back treat when they arrived for the first day of school on Tuesday.
At least two-dozen police officers, firefighters, EMTs and a collage of other community professionals lined both sides of the sidewalk at the entrance of the school to give each student a high-five as they walked past.
The Hillside PTA explained the initiative saying that a parent named Larry Glover, whose child attends the school, came up with the idea. He was familiar with Back to School programs in Michigan, Georgia and New York where fathers lined the school entranceway to cheer and encourage students on the first day of school. After bringing this idea to the attention of the Hillside PTA and administration, he had their full support, they said.
The Hillside PTA explained, "Glover rallied individual community leaders, dressed and ready for work, to cheer on our Hillside students." They added that women were also part of the lineup. "While women weren't excluded, the focus was a call for fathers/father figures for this particular effort. Together as a community, we demonstrated to our children that everyone recognizes and supports the importance of education."
Parents and community members gleefully took to social media to share their positive thoughts about the initiative.
One such parent of a 5th grader, Donna Montague, said that she was almost moved to tears. She said, "I didn't realize what was happening at first. Naiya and I were walking in and it hit me, a sea of Hi fives on both sides."
"I started to tear a bit because I felt that it reinforced a positive school experience. Especially for those kids that had no one physically able to be there with them."