Back to school on the right footPublished 9:47pm Saturday, August 31, 2013
Two Saturday back-to-school events in Suffolk encouraged fathers to get involved in their daughters’ education and charged up football fans.
At the Y2K Academy’s fourth annual Fathers as First Teachers on the First Day of School event, on a patch of grass off Pruden Boulevard, community leaders stressed the importance of male role models in the lives of teen girls.
Pastor Sylvester Silver of Gates of Heaven Church of God in Christ said fathers are important to children — especially daughters — “because of the strength that the father presents to the family.”
“He’s the provider, the protector, and the strength in the family,” Silver said.
“I don’t strive to be my daughters’ friend; I strive to be their father. That means there’s strength, yet there’s love.”
Academy founder Princella Johnson said the turnout was down from previous years. “We are still excited because we did have some very powerful speakers, who made important speeches to the fathers,” she also said.
Other speakers included Brandy Hollaway, of EternaWell Comprehensive Wellness Center, former teacher and School Board candidate Marion Flood, Suffolk’s NAACP branch president, Costellar Ledbetter, and the academy’s Pastor Maurice Johnson.
Attendees also enjoyed a performance from Silent Anointing, a mime dance group from Gates of Heaven Church.
Christopher Brown, a father of three daughters and a stepdaughter, said he read about the event in the newspaper.
“We try to establish a strong relationship with their teachers,” he said. “The teachers know they have support, as far as how they behave in the classroom.
“It’s two-way communication as far as homework and other assignments. We try to make sure we read for 30 minutes every night. It’s all about supporting your kids and listening to them.”
Four young ladies who mentor teen girls were at the event — Miranda Hodge, Amy Henderson, Sierra Hodge and Alexis Scott.
Miranda Hodge said she works hard to be a positive influence in girls’ lives “if they don’t have a mother or a sister to look up to.”
The event has previously focused on all kids, but this year’s focus was on fathers and daughters due to growing violence and crime among girls.
Meanwhile, dust was kicked up at John F. Kennedy Middle School for an event involving the Suffolk Steelers’ first home game of the season.
“We just tried to bring a lot to the table and make it a real festive event,” said Theotis Porter, an assistant basketball coach at King’s Fork High School who organized the event.
“We wanted to give kids something positive to do to close the summer. I used to play for the Steelers as a kid, so it feels good to grow up and be able to give something back to them.”
Besides football, the event also included school supply giveaways, children’s activities, and the chance to appear in Porter’s music video.
Local semi-pro football team the Suffolk Chargers supported the event
“We came out and helped with the coaching,” Chargers owner Angela Harper said. “We let them know that if you work hard, you can end up playing at the level we play at.”
Robert Faulk, president of the Suffolk Inner City Athletic Association, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm of players and spectators. “We have a great turnout today,” he said.