In West End and Avondale, men suit up to inspire students on first day of school

CINCINNATI -- Most kids wear a special outfit on the first day of school, but rarely do you see dozens of suits lining the hallways. That's what students at Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy and Rockdale Academy walked into Wednesday morning.

The 100 Rising initiative began in 2015 at Cincinnati College Prepatory Academy in the West End and has grown like the students it's designed to encourage. The front steps of the school felt a lot more like a red carpet as dozens of male professionals, including Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, came out to make these students feel special on their first day of class.

"(It's) businesses, churches, fraternities, just anybody and everybody that we think would like to be invested in helping our youth out," said Principal Tiffany Williams.

Jeremy Patterson, dean of students for the elementary school, said he thinks the tradition is making a difference.

"A lot of them are doing it from middle school and now they're in high school. So, they tell their little siblings 'Hey, you're going to love this,' " Patterson said.

Whether it's a high-five or the art of tying a tie, it's all designed to make sure every student at Cincinnati College Prepatory Academy is rising to the occasion.

Male role models and City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson welcome students on the first day of classes at Rockdale Academy on Wednesday.

Across town in Avondale, positive adult role models crowded into the parking lot of Rockdale Academy with the same purpose. David Whitehead said he attended Rockdale as a student, and he returned Tuesday to let the kids of "tough" neighborhoods like Avondale know that they can make something of themselves.

"It’s important that we let the kids know that somebody cares about them. I grew up in this neighborhood, and coming from this neighborhood, you needed to have someone there that trusted in you that you could succeed," Whitehead said. "You can be the head of a company. You can be leading million-dollar campaigns. You can get educated and go further beyond just standing on the street corner."

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