EO men called to welcome students back on first day of school

Photo by Chris Sykes
East Orange Campus High School Assistant Principal Damein Phoenix helps a group of students find their class schedules on the first day of school of the new 2018-2019 year on Thursday, Sept. 6.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — For the first day of school in the East Orange on Thursday, Sept. 6, Mayor Ted Green, 3rd Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus and other men from across the district welcomed the students back for the new academic year.

“With the school year opening tomorrow, I am calling all of my strong male figures — fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, mentors, coaches, religious leaders, community activists and teachers — to come greet the children of East Orange School District in a rally-type environment on the first three days of school,” said Leneus on Wednesday, Sept. 5, in an email blast sent to men in the city. “We hope to do this periodically, throughout the year as well, as a reminder that we are here to support our children on their educational journey. … I hope that you will be able to attend, to wish our children a happy and healthy school year.”

Leneus served as president of the East Orange Board of Education, prior to running for the 3rd Ward Council seat as part of the Team Green in 2017 slate and becoming the city’s first Haitian American elected official.

The councilman said he would be greeting incoming students at: Benjamin Banneker Academy and Langston Hughes Elementary School on Thursday, Sept. 6; Hart Middle School Complex on Friday, Sept. 7; and East Orange Campus High School, Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts and East Orange STEM Academy on Monday, Sept. 10.

Leneus said East Orange education issues are his top priorities on the city’s governing body. Meanwhile, Green said he came out on Thursday, Sept. 6, to welcome students back to school because that’s what he’s been doing for years, even before he was elected mayor.

“This is the continuation of my Calling All Men initiative that asked the fathers, men and all education stakeholders to come out on the first day of school and join in welcoming our young kings and queens back to school on the first day,” said Green on Thursday, Sept. 6. “This my sixth year putting together the Calling All Men initiative and my first year doing it as mayor. We are starting at (Garfield) Jackson Academy on Lincoln Street with 2nd Ward Councilman Chris Awe.”

Green was outside Garfield Jackson Academy at 7:30 a.m., but he was gone by the time Monet Crumbley, 9, showed up for school, accompanied by her father and her grandmother, Beulah Lambert.

“I’m glad that the fathers and other men came out to welcome the kids back to school on the first day,” said Lambert on Thursday, Sept. 6. “I think it was a good thing to do for the kids and they should do it more. I hope they do it again.”

Crumbley also said she was glad her father and grandmother had brought her to school.

“I’m in the fifth grade and I’m happy to be going back to school, because I get to learn more things,” said Crumbley on Thursday, Sept. 6. “I want to be an actress when I grow up. I think going to school and getting an education will help me become an actress.”

Green said Crumbley’s future plans seemed pretty good to him and they’re the kinds of things he wants to hear from all of East Orange’s students, because they are the future of the city and the country.

“We had a fantastic day. We had over 50 men and it was great to welcome our young people back with a round of applause,” Green said. “Our fathers and men initiative has inspired people. It even touched me today to be in the schools, seeing our young people looking ready to learn. I also wanted to show our students that their mayor is behind them.”