Million Father March

By GABRIELLA DRAGONEPublishedSeptember 7, 2022 at 12:17 PM

WOODLAND PARK, NJ – Fathers of Paterson students lined up at John P. Holland Charter School clapping and cheering on students as they entered the building to begin a new school year on Wednesday. This event takes place annually and is known as the Million Fathers March, a national movement for fathers and other role models to show support for education. 

“The whole purpose of this event, which is a John P. Holland Charter School tradition, is to recognize and show appreciation for fathers,” Heru Keonté, Principal of the Charter School said. “In a lot of these communities, absentee fathers are a norm, but we try to make a point to recognize that there are some great fathers out there.”

After students were cheered on, they went into their classrooms to begin the day. Their fathers, however, were treated to refreshments, a presentation and a tour of the school. 

“It is important for both parents to be present,” Larry, a father said. “Mothers address certain aspects, but dads need to be there for encouragement. Moms will clean your knee off if you fall, dads will tell you to get back in the game and that you’re going to be there for them whether you win or lose. Dads are there to have their kid’s back and to pick them up when they fall. That gives them [the kids] the open point of view that they can get anything done.”

Among the many fathers who showed up to support the children on their first day of school, were Assemblyman Benji Wimberly and Mayors Andre Sayegh of Paterson and Keith Kazmark of Woodland Park.

“My wife tells me all the time ‘just because you’re there, doesn’t mean you are present.’, you’re going to be physically there, but you’re not mentally there,” Sayegh said to fathers during a presentation. “As fathers, let’s be fully engaged. We have duties as dads. I take pride in dropping my kids off at school, because I helped bring them into this world and I want them to be successful. For this upcoming school year, we should strive to be MVPs, most valuable parents. Stay focused and stay present for your children.” 

“It takes two to bring a child into this world, a mom and a dad,” another father said. “It is up to us make sure that we stay present in their lives and support them no matter what.”