'Million Father March' draws dads to first day of school in West Memphis

Monday was the first day of classes for students in West Memphis, and accompanying many children returning to school were familiar figures: their dads.

The organization "Million Father March" urged dads to take their children to school.

With his video camera in hand, Donald Boyd walked his four boys into Maddux Elementary.

"I got my two older boys and my first one starting in kindergarten today," he said, pointing out his kids.  "This one's going into the sixth, and this one into the fifth."

For the Boyd home, it was a big day.  Boyd said he hoped he was setting a good example for his children.

"If they see me doing it, they try harder in school, to see what I gotta do to take care of them," he said.

Boyd's presence inspired his sons, including Dontarious, the kindergartner.

"I'm gonna do good on my grades and stuff," he said.

The event was organized by Kareem Ali, who stood out in front of the school and greeted parents and students.  Ali's goal: create an honor guard of positive men supporting kids at school.

"Research shows that when fathers are actively involved in their child's lives, that child earns better grades, gets better test scores, and is more likely to graduate from high school," he said.
But fathers need to start when their kids are young, like Madison Nicole Peoples, who started her first day of kindergarten with her dad.

"It's special to me because I love this school, but I haven't come here before," she said.

Kelvin Peoples, Madison's father, drove four hours across the state from Fayetteville to there for her first day..

"First day of school...first day of kindergarten...(I) can't miss that," he said.

The Million Father March is also planning "lunch with Dad days" at schools this year.

to email Bill Lunn.