Students arriving to Woodward Elementary Monday morning were greeted and cheered on by over 100 members of the community as part of the schools “Hour to Empower.”
From 7:45 a.m. until 8:45 a.m., walkers, bus riders and students being dropped off walked into Woodward high-fiving, fist bumping and shaking hands with 126 men from throughout the Delaware community, including firefighters, police officers and school administrators.
Woodward Principal Ryan Malany organized the event. He said some students at Woodward don’t get to have positive interactions with a male role model, so he invited men in the community to come and encourage students with messages of positivity.
“I think this shows that this community recognized the need to show our kids that there are so many positive male influences that stand behind our kids,” Malany said. “We know that our kids don’t always have the chance to regularly interact with positive male role models, and today, the community showed up in force to make sure that happened.”
Delaware City Manager Tom Homan attended the event to show his support for the school.
“This is a great way to show support by the community for the schools,” Homan said. “I’m happy to be a part of it. This underscores, to me, the important partnership between the community and the schools. This is a great example of that.”
Likewise, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jon Scowden said he was there Monday to support the community, but he added that he felt a special conviction to attend because he’s a father.
“We need to show our support for the community, first off,” Scowden said. “Second, I love kids. Kids are our future… Sometimes there’s not a male figure in their life. I have three children of my own, and I can’t even imagine not being in their lives. It’s a wonderful thing to be our here and show our support for these young kids. Even just to see their little smiles. It’s absolutely adorable.”
Few men at the event had a bigger smile than Antiwan Towns, who was one of the first faces students saw after getting off the buses.
“(I hope) kids get empowerment,” Towns said. “I’m here because my son goes to school here. I’m ecstatic to be here just to show empowerment to the community and to all the men out here who support their little ones as well. It’s great to be a part of it.”
Hayes High School Assistant Principal Dr. Adonis Bolden added, “I think (the turnout) shows them that there are people here in the community that want to support them literally from the beginning all the way to the end. Whether that be the beginning of the day to the end of the day or the beginning of life to the end of life. To know that there are people that genuinely care about them in the community oftentimes provides a source of inspiration on those dark days.”
Malany said he believed the first “Hour to Empower” was “an outstanding event,” and he was “super impressed” with the turnout.
“I’m very impressed with the diversity of the groups who came,” he said. “From business, first responders, to community organizations and churches. It was a great representation of the men in this community that stand behind our kids.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.