Men and women from the Kansas City community lined the sidewalk of Frontier School of Innovation Tuesday, Jan. 8 for the Million Fathers March event, welcoming students back to school after the winter break with smiles, high fives, and encouraging words. KC Wolf was even in attendance, greeting students as they stepped off the bus.
The Million Fathers March is an opportunity for fathers, uncles, grandfathers, coaches, mentors, clergy, men’s groups and organizations to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children by escorting children to school.
Timothy Gorman, a father of three students at Frontier Schools said he participated in the March to encourage the students coming back to school.
“I’m here just to support the children and be the best father I can be,” he said.
The Million Fathers March idea was born in 2004 when nine men gathered in a church basement on the south side of Chicago and wondered what could be done to help children in their area. They merged two ideas: The Million Man March, a 1995 gathering of African-American men in Washington DC and a tradition in South America where fathers take children to school to thank teachers, principals, janitors, and anyone who had a role in teaching the children. These two ideas combined created the Million Father March.
In 2005, the second annual Million Fathers March recruited the support of 83 cities nationwide, as well as Auckland, New Zealand. This participation of these cities led to an estimated participation of 200,000 men, women, and children in the March on the first day of school to show their commitment to the education of children.
The March was designed to be a community-driven event. Public schools, private schools, community organizations, government agencies, elected officials, local businesses, faith institutions: all members of the community are asked to participate and support The Million Father March.
Jack Klisares, a local community member, said he heard about the event from a co-worker at Holmes Murphy and Associates, and decided to join. He said the March is a great opportunity for the kids to see young men in the community welcoming them back to school.
“I’ve never done something like this before, so it was definitely a cool event, it was good to see all the kids smiling on their first day back. I loved it. There was a lot of energy and KC Wolf was in the house, so it was fun and I had a great time.”
Elizabeth Gude, Vice Principal of Frontier School of Innovation said this is the fourth year the school has participated in the Million Father March.
“We adapted the idea from The Black Star’s initiative that started in 2004 as an opportunity for men to show their commitment to their student’s educational journey by taking or walking them to their first day of school, she said.
“Since we are located in an industrial business park, we decided that it would be fun to line the sidewalks and welcome students off of the buses at the start of second semester. It’s cold, but it’s so worth it…even KC Wolf showed up to support this year!”
She said the event has great impact on the students coming back after winter break.
“We hope it gets students excited to start the second semester and shows them just how many people care and support them and their education.”
Jennifer Watson, Director of Communications and Outreach at Frontier Schools, said it’s important for community members to be involved in events like this so the students can see role models play an active role in their education.
“These kids are our future leaders,” Watson said. “It’s important for them to understand that there are many positive role models out there that want to have a positive impact on their lives. We want our students to understand that education is very important and that lots of people are cheering for their educational success. What better way to show that than by welcoming them on their first day back from holiday break.”
Watson said the students loved seeing the men in the community line up and greet them on their first day back to school.
“It shows them that community, not just their father or uncles, support them and have a vested interest in their success.”