Atlanta students surprised by cheers and encouragement on 1st day of school

Students at B.E.S.T Academy in Atlanta got a great start to the new year.

ByABC News
August 10, 2017, 4:25 PM

— -- Some lucky Atlanta students got a huge surprise last week. Mentors encouraged them as they walked into school for the very first time this year.

During the welcome, approximately 370 boys at BEST Academy of Atlanta, an all boys school for grades 6 through 12, were greeted with cheers, handshakes, high-fives, hugs and encouraging words from over 70 men.

The heartfelt welcome was thanks to a partnership by several Atlanta non-profit organizations, including 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Emerging 100 of Atlanta, The Collegiate 100 and the 100 Black Men of America.

BEST Academy student Gs3 Harris told ABC News he had no idea what to expect when he walked off the bus on August 1.

The graduating senior said his first reaction when seeing the dozens of men cheering was, "Oh snap! All these people came here to see us?"

Harris, 17, said one man even pulled him aside and said, "You look like you're going somewhere. You'll be famous soon."

"That was kind of special because not too many people think that of me," said the student, who plans to study mechanical engineering at Georgia State University when he graduates. "It was a boost in morale."

Ray Singer, the program director for 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the liaison for the school, said the morning also benefited the mentors.

"At the end of the day, all of our volunteers walked away with just as much as experience as the student," he told ABC News. "It gives them an opportunity to have some real dialogue with students about careers ... and they walk away feeling uplifted."

It's part of the non-profit organization's larger partnership with the school, which they adopted 11 years ago when the school initially opened.

Dr. Timothy Jones, the school's principle, was thankful his students got such a great start to the school year.

"When they see these men high-fiving them and circling them, it’s really saying, 'Hey, this is who I aspire to be and it’s possible,'" he told ABC News. "They become like symbols ... symbols of hope and light."