“I’m not so much happy or sad,” Hollis said. “I am happy about the start of school, but I am also nervous.
Hollis, who lives near the Dellwood Police Station, said she isn’t taking anything for granted, though, “I ought to feel safe – because I live across from the police station – but I don’t.”
Hollis has heard glass shattering and shooting during some of the looting and protests. She noticed that as businesses near her were broken in to, police would disperse one group of looters and others causing disturbances, but as soon as police left — other looters would come in their place.
The district implemented a special plan to ensure the safety of neighborhood children traveling to Griffith by expanding its bus service. That means even students who live less than a mile away could ride buses to school.
Hollis decided to take responsibility for making sure her children Deyontey Clark, a sixth-grader; KeShawn Johnson, a third-grader; and Aliyah Hollis, a second-grader, arrived safely to school herself, passing on the bus ride and walking her children to school.
Part of that decision might have been influenced by Hollis’ desire to explain what her children would see as they traveled their neighborhood.
“I have to explain why the Walgreens that we go to all the time is boarded up, and I have to explain to them that people came in from outside the community and destroyed things and that they did things the wrong way.
“I have to explain that they are not hurting the Ferguson Police Department, but they are hurting the single parents, elderly people, and kids who live here who are going to have to pay for all this,” she said.
As Deyontey, KeShawn, and Aliyah walked up the stairs and approached the front door of Griffith Elementary, they were greeted by teachers, administrators, and the applause of about 20 students and staff from Harris-Stowe University (HSSU), located at 3026 Laclede Ave, in St. Louis.
Dwaun Warmack, president of HSSU, said he and his staff came out to support the students and make sure they see positive images of African-American males.
The men wore black T-shirts with the simple phrase “I am…” on the front in yellow letters. The back of the T-shirts read,“A HARRIS-STOWE STATE UNIVERSITY SCHOLAR.”
“It is important that students see images of African-American males as scholars,” Warmack said. “We hope to partner with the district and adopt two schools, so students continue to see positive portrayals of African-American males in the future.”
At the close of the school day, Shortt explained that things were moving along nicely.
“We had good attendance and reports have been good from the buildings,” she said. Everything seems to have gone well.”