John Burnett, a local politician and community activist, put out a call for 100 black and Hispanic men to cheer on students as they arrived for the first day of school at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem.
Many showed up and the kids they greeted were excited.
"On my way to school I did not feel that inspired to go to school," eighth-grader Jose Paulin said, "I was like, 'Should I go? I should go' and when they started clapping, yeah, I'm ready for this school year and I was motivated."
Burnett explained that he organized the event to help kids stay on the right path.
"Oftentimes kids are pulled apart. On the one hand they have to choose between coming to school and getting a good education and on the other hand to join different members of gangs or people engaging in negative behavior," Burnett said, "It starts very young all the way to high school."
Among the cheering men were a few NYPD officers, but they weren’t wearing uniforms.
“We want to make it easier for all the kids to come talk to us because we know that the kids kind of have a little bit of intrepidation when it comes to dealing with the police,” NYPD Officer Carlos Castillo explained.
Burnett mentioned that the event is aimed to steer kids away from gangs or a life of violence.
“Often time’s kids are pulled apart. On one hand, they have to choose between coming to school to get a good education, on the other hand, could join different members, and let’s say gangs or people that are engaging into negative behavior. It starts very young all the way to high school. We need to start when they are in the womb,” Burnett explained.