100 Male Reception Tunnel prepares to welcome students

Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams and Ashley Principal Scarlette Linville

100 Male Reception Tunnel prepares to welcome students
August 23
05:00 2018

Students, parents, teachers, and WS/FCS prepare for first day of school at Ashley

Two years ago, Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams had an idea to invite 100 men from all walks of life to come together on the first day of school to encourage students at Ashley Academy for Global & Cultural Studies (Ashley Elementary) to put their best foot forward throughout the school year.

Since the first 100 Male Reception Tunnel held in 2016, the welcoming ceremony at Ashley has grown tremendously in participation and support. According to Williams the first year 106 volunteers participated in the welcome tunnel; last year that number jumped to 160.

“The whole goal was to be able to create a space where our young kids could get something positive on the first day of school,” said Williams. “We put a call out to the community and said whether you’re a lawyer, judge, or right down to a grandpa, uncle or cousin, it doesn’t matter. You can be a part of this welcome tunnel and be a part of a positive start for our kids.”

The 100 Male Welcome Tunnel is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 27. Williams said those looking to participate should arrive early to register. Those who register will be asked to return to Ashley throughout the school year to mentor students.

“The message is real simple; it’s not a one-day affair. What we’re saying is, if you believe the future of our children matters, then don’t talk about it, be about it,” said Williams. “Get involved, interact with the young children. To the children that’s the most powerful message you can send to them.”

Principal Scarlet Linville said when Williams approached her with his idea to greet students on the first day of school with handshakes and words of encouragement, she saw it as the perfect opportunity for students to build meaningful relationships.

“I came as a transformation principal; the school actually identifies as a school of transformation. We get federal money to make these changes, but it all starts with the relationships,” said Linville. “I saw the 100 Male Tunnel as the perfect opportunity to start building meaning relationships with the community.

“… Since the beginning, our mantra has been positive people producing positive results, and that continues to be our mantra because we want to communicate a growth mindset.”

Linville said the 100 Male Reception Tunnel builds on their “3 Anchors” which are: delivering academic excellence, building strong relationships and fostering and engaging community. She said, “This is more than a job; it’s truly a mission.

“… We have it in our spirit. We know it’s the right thing for our kids, but as events continue to evolve, we see how it’s all aligned with the same vision of transformation. It’s a transformation of mindset. It’s a transformation of culture and this year, we have the transformation of the actual physical building.”

In early April, The Chronicle reported that local activists, community leaders and others held a meeting to discuss concerns of mold inside Ashley causing health problems for students and teachers. After taking their complaints to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) system, air quality testing was conducted by Mid Atlantic Associates and results showed mold growth on HVAC units and evidence of moisture problems that could cause mold to grow. 

Despite calls from the group of concerned citizens known as the Action4Ashley Coalition to move students out of the building and build a new school to replace Ashley, the school board decided to spend more than $1.38 million to replace all the HVAC units at the school and other repairs before the start of the 2018-2019 year, after weighing their options. In response to the board’s decision, last week Action4Ashley filed a discrimination complaint against WS/FCS and the school board. 

While the focus may be on Ashley next week for reasons beyond its control, more than 500 students will head back to classrooms at Ashley on Monday morning.

Williams said he wants to send a positive message to the students on the first day. He said, “At the end of the day our message to the kids is that you have positive support from the community.”

When asked how she has seen the tunnel reception and the mentoring program affect the students on a daily basis, Linville said it has created excitement in the building that wasn’t there before.

She said when the students see people who look like them from different generations come support education, they feel like it’s OK to be excited about learning.

“Right now we could use all of the positive energy and positive people who are committed to help us reach our academic goals because we can’t lose sight that this is an institution of learning,” said Linville. “This is not about people and positions and personal agendas. This is about education and making sure our kids are leaving here proficiently reading, writing, and doing math on grade level.

“I want people to know that when they come and be apart of this, it is social, it is emotional, it is a community effort, but the bottom line is student achievement. This is about the education of children.”

For more information on the 100 Male Tunnel Reception or to register before the event visit

Preparing for the first day at Ashley  

 For the first time since the $1.38 million dehumidification project was completed at Ashley,  students and parents will have a chance to walk through the halls of Ashley today, Aug. 23, during open house scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m..

In preparation for the first day of school, contractors worked diligently throughout the summer to replace outdated HVAC units and make other improvements at Ashley. According to Assistant Superintendent Darrell Walker, along with replacing HVAC units in every classroom in the main building, contractors also replaced ceiling tiles, lights, the roof on the gymnasium and installed new carpet in the media center.

“We did a few extra things while we were there. Personally, to me it looks really great.” Walker said.

During the school board meeting on Aug. 14, Walker said initially all the improvements at Ashley weren’t scheduled to be completed until October but they were able to finish ahead of schedule.

“When I presented that project in the spring, I said we had some work that may have to roll into October. All that work has been completed,” said Walker. “When the contractor walks out of there this week, all the work that we had scheduled to do there will be performed.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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