When Halifax County School Board member Sandra Garner Coleman worked as an after-school coordinator with 21st Century, she learned of a renaissance club that organized a receiving line on the first day of school filled with male role models.

Now she’s bringing a similar idea to Halifax County schools for the first day of school on Aug. 14.

All parents and guardians of children enrolled in Halifax County Public Schools are invited to arrive at their child’s school on the first day to welcome them back and encourage them to have a good school year.

Those participating are being asked to arrive no later than 7:15 a.m.

The receiving line will be in place from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

“It’s just a morale booster,” said Coleman. “I just wanted to do something to let them know we love them and wish them a great school year.”

She initially sought out 20 men for each of the 11 county schools, just as she had seen it done in other areas.

Fathers greeted students at Tallwood Elementary School in Virginia Beach in 2017, and a group of 100 men gathered outside an elementary school in Hartford, Connecticut in 2015.

In 2018, 80 men in suits greeted students as they entered their Statesmen College Prep in Washington, D.C., and fathers, grandfathers and male community members welcomed back students at Hatfield and Burris elementary schools in Indiana.

“The reality is a lot of households don’t have a male in the home. I wanted to project a positive male image for those without,” said Coleman.

But, after receiving feedback from the public, she’s decided to open it up to everyone.

And, it’s morphed into a few more ideas.

Some individuals have asked if they could wear their work uniform to the first day of school, rather than their “Sunday best.”

“I said, ‘sure,’” said Coleman. “How wonderful would it be for us to have professionals come in uniform.”

She’s challenging professionals of all walks of life, including school board members, to make it out to the first day of school.

“I’d like to see everyone involved, and for our children to be supported. I want to create a county-wide pep rally,” said Coleman.

“In order to get to the head, you have to get to the heart. Throughout my years of teaching, I always reached a child more through love and affection than anything else.”

To participate in the receiving line, contact the principal at a child’s school to let him or her know of an interest in participating.

“Thanks in advance for your participation to form receiving lines for the 2019-20 school year,” said Coleman.

For any questions or more information, contact Coleman at 434-476-6305 or 434-470-6305.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com