Hartford Public Schools kick the school year off with celebration for students
Teachers, community members and school administrators lined the sidewalks of Hartford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Tuesday and cheered on students as they walked into school for the first day of the new school year.
The first day celebration included an address from Gov. Ned Lamont, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.
Some students came to school by bus, some walked hand-in-hand with their parents, but all students received the same warm welcome of applauding, cheering, celebratory drums, from local organization Calling All Brothers.
“I started Calling All Brothers eight years ago to welcome kids back to school,” Pastor AJ Johnson, founder of the organization said. “I wanted to bring Black men together to show that we’re all not killers, we’re all not thugs but we have professional men that really care about the community.”
Johnson said Calling All Brothers comes together every year to show students that their education is important. Especially with chronic absenteeism, the organization wants to encourage students and their families to prioritize learning.
Bronin said he’s incredibly proud of everyone who came out for the first day of school. The best thing, he said, was that the event was community organized.
“This is such a beautiful demonstration of the community coming together to support our kids,” Bronin said. “We’re still dealing with the wake of the world turning upside down during the pandemic and you can see the effects of that lingering in attendance and achievement gap and performance, there’s a lot of hard work to do this year.
Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez was excited to see the full return of Calling All Brother’s back to school welcome. She says for the first time in a while, with COVID-19 not as great of a threat this school year, she feels stable and excited for the new school year.
“What better way to remind our students how much we believe in them and how much we’re working together to make sure their aspirations, their dreams are achieved,” Torres-Rodriguez said.