‘At Hartford’s King School, ‘Beautiful’ Support On First Day’
HARTFORD — Six-year-old Jamar Nickson was ambling down the sidewalk to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School on Tuesday when he walked into a symbolic embrace that was unlike anything people in the neighborhood had ever seen.
AJ Johnson, pastor of Urban Hope Refuge Church, approached Jamar and asked for two quick details, just as he had done for other students arriving at the north Hartford institution for the first day of school.
“Everybody!” Johnson shouted to the scores of sharply dressed black men lining the walkway to M.L. King. “We’ve got Jamar here coming to the first grade!”
The group — Hartford businessmen, lawyers, community organizers, city politicians, artists, neighborhood dignitaries, a police officer in uniform — erupted in cheers and whoops for Jamar, giving the boy high-fives and handshakes as if he were LeBron James being introduced at Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
“I want everyone to put their hands together for Odell!” Johnson said as another child, third-grader Odell Harris, 8, walked up to the school and was greeted by the dapper crew of well-wishers, men of color in suits and ties who came to show their support. It was a sight that left one King mother in tears.
“This is beautiful,” Kerryann Heron said.
Across the Hartford school system, about 22,000 students were expected to file into classrooms Tuesday morning after a summer of uncertainty in the capital city, where street gunfire left Heron and other parents worried about letting their children play outside.
Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, who links social justice to her educational approach, has rolled out a plan to lift Hartford’s graduation rate from 71 percent to 90 percent by 2020, part of a five-year road map to cut suspensions and chronic absenteeism, while raising third-grade reading proficiency, expanding college opportunities and connecting each student to a “caring adult.”
“I’m really starting to think about our work here in Hartford as being an urban center of excellence,” Narvaez said as she concluded her visit to King School on Tuesday, her first stop on a bus tour that headed to Hartford Public High’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology and Breakthrough Magnet School, two schools that won national awards this year.
“That’s my hope and dream,” Narvaez said, “that people don’t look at a city, or at a city school system, as a deficit, but really as an area of promise.”
King, housed in a battered Collegiate Gothic-style building on a hill just west of Keney Park, has been promised $68 million in Hartford’s capital improvement budget toward renovations, and is one of six pre-K-to-8 neighborhood schools featured in Narvaez’s new “acceleration agenda,” which pledges extra staff training and support for some of the district’s neediest schools.
For Heron, the mother at King School, first-day-of-school optimism was high.
“The truth? I’m expecting nothing but the best,” said Heron, a certified nursing assistant who brought two of her sons, fourth-grader Chase and eighth-grader Jahni, to school more than an hour early. “I just want them to get the education that they came here for … to be good citizens and good men.”
Johnson, a pastor and community organizer, said he and lawyer DeVaughn Ward decided to rally nearly 100 men to King School, “one of the last community schools,” to show neighborhood students that they care about their education. At Simpson-Waverly School, 23-year-old Maurice “Splash” Eastwood also brought about 30 of his friends to welcome students on the first day.
After Jamar left the rows of high-fives, Whitney Walker said she enrolled her son at King because she believed in the school.
“My hope is that [Jamar] stays focused and that he does not be a follower, and he has confidence in himself to learn, and know that he can do it — just believe in himself,” said Walker, 28, who attended King as a grade-schooler. “That’s most important. And I know he’s young and it’s not going to happen in a day, but I’m just going to keep encouraging him that he can do it. Because it is possible.”
Walker spoke softly to her son, dressed neatly in his school uniform, Air Jordans and a Spider-Man backpack. “You see those men down there?” she told him. “It’s not even the color of their skin. It’s just being successful.”
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GOAL: “New England Antifacists is meant to be a hub for leftists of any stripe in the northeastern united states to unite in the form of direct action against fascism, capitalism, racism, transphobia, and other forms of reactionary politics. The majority of our activists will be out of Massachusetts, but we will support by any means possible all other struggle being carried out in the surrounding areas.”
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Homelessness exists, not just in poor nations, but also in the United States. While some are simple criminals, others are just suffering from mental disease. There is a large segment of homeless that are veterans, people who have served this nation, and, in some cases, fought wars on behalf of the United States.
Pic courtesy builtusa.com
For decades states have been wrestling with this “quality…
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