Students at Crispus Attucks High School were in for a surprise when they walked off the buses and into their school for the first day of class, startled by a sudden burst of noise.
About two dozen members of 100 Black Men of Indianapolis and Crispus Attucks alumni, along with Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent Lewis Ferebee, lined both sides of a narrow hallway and greeted the incoming students with high fives and cheers.
“It’s always good to see our students back on campuses, and the opportunity just to interact with students is something I always appreciate,” Ferebee said.
The crowd shouted encouragement to the students – “4.0! 4.0 this year!” one man chanted.
Most of the teenagers broke out into smiles, slapping at the outstretched hands as they waded through the hallway. Some, however, still looked half-asleep (Crispus Attucks High School, along with most other IPS high schools, started its day ten minutes earlier this year).
Crispus Attucks Principal Lauren Franklin said it’s important for students to see that their community cares about them, and for community members to have the opportunity to express their love. It was the first time 100 Black Men had held a “High-5 Rally” like this at Crispus Attucks, said the organization’s executive director, Ontay Johnson.
“We want students to leave here saying, ‘Man, I can achieve,’” Johnson said. “…‘The community is here to support me. Caring adults are here to support me. So there is no excuse why I cannot achieve.’”
Ferebee made another back-to-school stop later that morning at Center for Inquiry School 27, a pre-K-8 magnet school. In a much more quiet and orderly scene, he read Kate Beaton’s book King Baby to a group of second graders in the media center. Ferebee’s visit recognized the school’s media specialist, Kathleen Rauth, who was named IPS’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.