The #DadSquad took over the halls at Homewood-Flossmoor High School to celebrate all that students and staff accomplish each day.
Starting at 7 a.m. dads were on campus decked out in #DadSquad T-shirts designed by student Caris Pryor. Throughout the day on March 20, the visitors were giving students high-fives, fist bumps and words of encouragement for the start of the fourth quarter.
The Homewood-Flossmoor Parent Association (HFPA) worked with the H-F administration to bring dads to campus to put a positive spin on their role in educating and supporting their students.
“Just to see the students excited about (the dads) being there, and it also sparked words from students ‘Why are these dads here?’ We didn’t publicize it to students. It was strictly a surprise for them to see these dads in the North and South buildings and walking along the path,” said Aginah Muhammad, president of HFPA. “We’re just excited to have something positive where parents aren’t just there when there’s something wrong going on.”
Muhammad said she was encouraged by the turnout – more than 50 dads came out for the event, volunteering to either be present throughout the school day, or for a morning or afternoon shift “to give students the vital push to get to the finish line; 10 more weeks until the school year ends,” she noted.
H-F provided breakfast and lunch for the volunteers, addressed their questions and put together a lunchtime program with student entertainers.
HFPA members who worked with Muhammad on the event were Kashanna Eiland, Andrea Lasticly, Tracie Lanier, Tracy Lino-Taylor, Hubert Stalling and Tara Hill.
“It was powerful. It was incredibly energizing, and I could tell by the energy in the room that that is something we’re going to be able to sustain,” Gerald Pauling, president of the District 233 school board, said at the board’s March 21 meeting.
Fellow board member Nate Legardy said: “It was well put together, and certainly one of the things I picked up on was our school climate. Nothing was artificial… As you walked the building you could just feel a tremendous energy. Year over year it’s like night over day. Not only congratulations on a well put-together dads program, but just to see the impact of the efforts to try to elevate our school climate.”
Muhammad said early into the school year HFPA discussed with H-F Principal Clinton Alexander ways to get more parents involved in the school. Planning for the dads event started in fall, and timing it for the fourth quarter was intentional.
“The last few years have been very challenging with COVID, and students just need to know that they’re receiving encouragement both inside and outside the school,” she said.
HFPA is already in discussion for what the event will look like in 2024.
“What I think was the positive spin from this is there were some dads saying that they didn’t realize all that was going on at Homewood-Flossmoor High School because typically their wives have been the ones involved. They are now asking how they can get involved with HFPA,” Muhammad said.
“I think this is going to be a great start to getting dads actively involved because we’ll find ways they can actively participate or be present.”
Alexander told the school board that he was “fascinated with the energy (the dads) brought” and he was in discussion with several dads on how to work collaboratively for future events.