Students welcomed at cleaned-up Ashley

Students at Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies make their way through the 100 Male Reception Tunnel on Monday, Aug. 27.

Students welcomed at cleaned-up Ashley
August 30
09:08 2018

Earlier this week, students across the local district grabbed their backpacks, pens, pencils and paper and returned to the classroom for the first day of school. As more than 500 students filed into the building at Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies, they were greeted by high-fives, handshakes and words of encouragement from participants in the annual welcome tunnel. 

This year, the students returned to schools with some areas cleaned up. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) system 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 hearing concerns of mold inside Ashley causing health problems for students and teachers.

For the past three years, Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams has invited men from all walks of life to welcome students on the first day of school at Ashley.

This year men from all walks of life – business owners, elected officials and several first responders –showed up almost an hour early to start forming the tunnel, which stretched from the sidewalk outside the school to the cafeteria where students gather before heading to class.

“I’m already excited they’re here early, so that’s a very good sign that there are people who are willing to do the work and the work is the children,” said Williams. “… To me this shows there is a level of unity as it relates to the children.”

While welcoming boys and girls on Monday morning, local entrepreneur Joe Watson said when he heard about the tunnel he felt it was his duty to get involved.

“It’s just hit me; the impact of me greeting a young boy or girl who looks like me on the first day of school makes a powerful statement,” Watson said. 

Officer Ben Harrison, a veteran with the Winston-Salem Police Department, said although he doesn’t respond to calls for high-fives and handshakes often, building relationships with children and the community is part of his job. 

“It’s always good to encourage them and let them see an officer’s face who is going to work in their community as well,” continued Harrison. “For a lot of students, the first day can be the toughest day of the year because of the unknown and all the new things going on, so when they get to come in and get a high-five, be encouraged, and see a bunch smiling faces, that can set the tone for the rest of the year.” 

According to Dr. Williams, the welcome tunnel  was just the beginning. Throughout the school year, the volunteers will be expected to return to the school to serve as mentors for students. Williams said there are several mentoring events scheduled with the first set for next month. 

For more information on how to serve as a mentor at Ashley Global & Cultural Academy visit 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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