Community members decked out in suits fought a torrential downpour to welcome students back to EastSide Charter School Tuesday morning.
For the seventh year in a row, the charter in northeast Wilmington held its annual Suit Up, Show Up first day, with students walking through rows of professional and other community members there to encourage them.
The students are high-fived, welcomed back and otherwise encouraged to value the importance of education.
“I actually think it’s better that it was pouring,” said Matt Meyer, county executive of New Castle County.
He thought the experience was just the jolt of energy the students needed when their first day was a dreary Tuesday “that kind of felt like a Monday after the three-day weekend.”
Suit Up, Show Up helps the kids “know that this school isn’t just an academic educational place, but it’s a source of great excitement and enthusiasm, not just for the school community, but for the broader community,” he said. “ I think that’s really meaningful.”
The group that shows up every year has been a mixture of neighbors, parents, community leaders, politicians and business leaders, said Aaron Bass, chief executive officer of EastSide Charter.
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“They have encouraged our children and it’s important because we need our children who have all this potential to also see people that are in those positions,” Bass said.
Suit Up, Show up is a favorite tradition of the parents, too.
“It was an absolute inspiration and energizer for me as a parent to know that my child is in the care of that many responsible adults who really support the efforts of the school,” said Thomas Wallace. His son started his first day of eighth grade Tuesday. “It’s really encouraging for me as a parent.”
He pointed out that the rain couldn’t stop the “unbelievable turnout” of community members cheering on the Eagles.
His son enjoyed seeing all the bright faces and community members in fancy clothes.
“When the kids see the smiles and excitement, it gives them a sense of security, and also a sense of reassurance,” Wallace said. “They know they have the backing of educated and well-rounded individuals and responsible adults. They see there are people there that they can go to for support and who are supporting them for their safety, wellbeing and educational needs.”
The crowd included Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, State Rep. Kim Williams and Sen. Sarah McBride, and representatives from nonprofit groups and corporations such as Barclays.
“We want our students in those positions, and that’s what it’s going to take for them to actually have access,” Bass said.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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