JCPS 'Flash Dads' welcome Shelby Traditional students to class

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Students at Shelby Traditional Academy got a warm welcome to school on Wednesday, exchanging high fives with more than 70 “Flash Dads” who lined the halls as they got off schools buses and walked to class.

It’s part of Jefferson County Public Schools’ “Flash Dad” initiative, which is in its second year and allows men to give back to students that may not have positive male role models in their lives.

“It’s beautiful, just support the kids, let them know that they’ve got support in the community,” Aundre Burr said between cheers from “Flash Dads” as groups of students arrived at school Wednesday morning.

The enthusiastic start to Wednesday’s school day at Shelby Traditional Academy comes a day after a tragic shooting more than 200 miles away at Marshall County High School that left two 15-year-old students dead, 18 others wounded and a 15-year-old student facing murder and attempted murder charges.

The timing of Wednesday’s event wasn’t lost on those who lined the halls at Shelby Traditional Academy.

“It’s really nice, especially in light of a lot of the news that is out there over the past 24 hours, to see kids walking into school smiling and laughing,” acting JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said.

“Anything we can do to make kids feel welcome at school and happy, we’ve got to do that,” he added.

JCPS is working to get materials to parents to help them explain what happened at Marshall County High School to their children, he said. The district has also offered grief counselors for Marshall County Schools in the aftermath of Tuesday's violence.

Pollio, who has a seventh-grade daughter, understands how difficult those conversations can be.

School safety is a top priority for any district, “and giving kids the opportunity to talk and express their feelings about it is important,” he said.

“But events like this are so important just to keep kids smiling and remembering that school is a happy place to be.”

Bill Lee, who has been a “Flash Dad” from the initiative’s launch, has a 30-year-old son, and he said Tuesday’s school shooting would be a hard subject to broach if faced with an inquisitive youngster looking for answers.

“It’s hard to understand what goes through someone’s mind to do something like that,” Lee said. “A long time ago when I was in elementary school that wasn’t heard of, and now it’s becoming all too frequent.”

Burr says he’s lucky because his 9-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son haven’t watched news coverage of the shooting.

Still, he’s at a loss for how he would explain what unfolded in Marshall County on Tuesday to his kids.

“I don’t really know what I could do to ease that situation,” Burr said.

“I really don’t because that’s a sad situation. You want your kids to come to school, but you want them to feel safe, feel like school is a second home. You should feel safe in school. You shouldn’t have to go to school and worry about bullies, fighting, guns, all that stuff. There’s no place for it.”

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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