WSSU athletes, local business professionals and others welcome students at Ashley

Volunteers pose for a photo at Ashley Academy following the welcome tunnel on the first day of school.

WSSU athletes, local business professionals and others welcome students at Ashley
August 29
03:10 2019

On Monday, Aug. 26, students across the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District returned to the classroom as summer vacation officially came to a close with the first day of school. While the first day of school is always exciting, students at Ashley Academy for Cultural and Global Studies had a little extra excitement as they received words of encouragement from dozens of people from all walks of life as they entered the building.

For the past four years, the Triad Mentoring Coalition, a faith-based nonprofit organization, has invited men and women from various walks of life to form a “welcome tunnel” and greet students on the first day of school. As the students arrived this year, they were met by dozens of business professionals, student athletes from Winston-Salem State University, and members of the Winston-Salem Fire Department. 

Rev. Lamonte Williams, executive director of the Triad Mentoring Coalition and a teacher at Ashley, said when he started the welcome tunnel, his goal was to show students that the community cares about them and their education. Williams said he was grateful for the volunteers who continue to support the event.

“It’s a feeling of great satisfaction when I look around and see all the volunteers and the smiles on the kids’ faces as they walk in the school. It let’s me know there is hope for our education system,” Williams continued. “Ultimately at the end of the day, it’s about our kids and our jobs as adults is to send a strong message that regardless of their background, if they’re bold enough to come here, we’re bold enough to look out for them.

“I’m just ecstatic about the number of parents and community leaders. I’m very indebted as well to Winston-Salem State who is committed to working with our school.”

Since starting the initiative in 2016, several schools across the local school district have adopted the welcome tunnel as well. When asked how it feels knowing that other schools and organizations in the area have followed in his footsteps, Williams said it feels good to know he is making an impact in the community.

“They say the mark of a good leader is when you can foster a vision that others take ownership of, so it doesn’t matter if they know or not, it’s just the fact that I know,” Williams said. “I came to Winston-Salem ten years ago and it’s obvious by the fruit that I’ve made some impact in this community and I’m grateful to the administrators who continue to support this effort.”

According to Williams, throughout the school year volunteers who helped form the tunnel will be asked to return and serve as mentors to students at the school.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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