Returning Pasadena Students Greeted by Success on First Day of School

Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school students are greeted by African American men from the community on the first day of school.Monika, 8, hugs her second grade teacher Hermalina Bolton during the first day of school.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school principal Benita Scheckel, left, and PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school students are greeted by African American men from the community on the first day of school.Students walk with their parents on the first day of school.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school students are greeted by African American men from the community on the first day of school.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school students are greeted by African American men from the community on the first day of school.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school students are greeted by African American men from the community on the first day of school.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school students are greeted by African American men from the community on the first day of school.Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary school principal Benita Scheckel welcomes her students on the first day of school.

By EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor

5:36 am | August 14, 2018


For the third year running, local members of 100 Black Men, an African-American support group, greeted returning students at a number of Pasadena Unified School District campuses Monday, the first day of the district’s 2018-2019 school year.

The gathered members offered words of encouragement and a warm welcome back to the young pupils.

“Each year we grow in representation and this year we had great support from some of our Latino and Latina churches, in growing our relationships,” said event organizer and PUSD graduate William Syms. “I think anytime we’re able to come together and build bridges in our community, we want to do that.”

The district-wide event featured gatherings at school locations including Cleveland Elementary, Elliot Middle School, John Muir High School, McKinley Elementary, and Altadena Elementary.

“It was fantastic!” said Regina Major, Altadena Arts Magnet Coordinator, whose campus hosted a group of 20 greeters, cheering on the returning students.

As Syms described the group and their history, “It is an organization of professional African American men, and maybe some five years ago, the organization began hosting welcome days as a means to support students, and let students across the country know that men in their community support them.

“And,” Syms continued, “because women are so highly represented in education, this is an opportunity for men to support the work that’s being done by women and men, but a lot of women across the country.

The group of 100 men includes individuals with a wide array of professional backgrounds, from doctors, lawyers, firemen, police officers, fathers, a gamut of people from across the community, said Syms.

Syms told Pasadena Now recently, “I think a lot of it is just about being an example to model behavior. You want to show support. And I think if students see that on the first day, it allows them to go into the year motivated and to see different faces.

“So we have professional athletes, we have lawyers, we have law enforcement members, we have bankers and doctors, and any number of people that join us every year,” said Syms. “And so, men are in suits, men are in jeans, men are in different uniforms. Being able to see every type of man, I think that allows them to, one, understand that everybody supports them. And, two, it models a gamut of careers that they may be interested in. So allowing them the opportunity to interface with these people is special.”

And, Syms noted with a chuckle, “I can selfishly say I’m a Muir alumnus, and so being able to do it at my high school is wonderful.”

In Altadena, over 20 members of the group stood out at the school’s front steps.

“When the children got out of the cars for valet, they walked right up to them, with the men greeting them and welcoming them back and cheering them on,” added Altadena’s Major, “There was music playing, and the principal, and then eventually our superintendent, was out there greeting as well, so it was fantastic this morning.”

Major also reported that Altadena Elementary is in the process of initiating a mentorship program with many of the 100 Black Men members, inspired by the enthusiasm of the group.