Students at Delray’s Village Academy got a warm welcome their first day back

Principal LaToya Dixon, of Village Academy in Delray Beach, greets students on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (Photo by Lulu Ramadan / Palm Beach Post)

Principal LaToya Dixon, of Village Academy in Delray Beach, greets students on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (Photo by Lulu Ramadan / Palm Beach Post)

“I feel so special,” a high school student at Village Academy said as she approached the Delray Beach school’s main hallway, lined with 50 men applauding and throwing high-fives on the first day of school Monday.

“You are special,” Principal Latoya Dixon quickly replied.

The students at Village Academy, Palm Beach County’s only pre-kindergarten to 12th grade public school, were greeted by male family members, religious leaders, city employees and city leaders, such as Delray Beach Police Chief Jeff Goldman and Mayor Cary Glickstein.

It was the second year the school had coordinated the first-day-of-school welcome.

“We have many non-traditional families both at our school and in the Delray Beach community,” Dixon said. “It’s important to attract positive male role models and remind students they have a network of support both in school and outside of school.”

Hundreds of students passed through the narrow hallway of male volunteers before the 8 a.m. bell. Several parents joined as well.

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein (center) and several community leaders greet students at Village Academy on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (Photo by Lulu Ramadan / Palm Beach Post)

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein (center) and several community leaders greet students at Village Academy on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (Photo by Lulu Ramadan / Palm Beach Post)

“It pumps the kids up,” said Anthony Guy, who walked his two sons, 9 and 12, onto campus Monday morning. “It shows the kids they have real support in this neighborhood.”

Dixon, who coordinated the first greeting when she took over as principal in 2015, hopes to continue the tradition in years to come to remind young, male students what they can accomplish and who’s cheering for them.

Said Dixon: “It’s a cliche, but very true when they say it takes a village to raise a child.”