Many respond to call for a few good men

Posted: September 19, 2013

The Winchester Star

Quarles Elementary School kindergartner Corbin Fuentes, 5, and his father, Antonio Fuentes, attended the initial meeting of the Watch DOGS program Wednesday evening at the school. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Jason Orr and his daughter Jazmin, 6, attend the Watch DOGS program at Quarles, where Jazmin is a first-grader.
Families gather Wednesday evening for the Watch DOGS program at Quarles Elementary School. Watch DOGS is an initiative of the National Center for Fathering that encourages father figures across the country to volunteer to serve at least one day or a few hours a year in a variety of school activities. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER

Wednesday night was special for Quarles Elementary School first-grader Jazmin Orr.

“Because I get to be with my daddy eating pizza with me,” she said.

Jazmin wasn’t the only student enjoying some male bonding time. Approximately 180 fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles and other father figures poured into the school with their child or loved one for the launch of Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students).

The school has an enrollment of 537.

Watch DOGS is an initiative of the National Center for Fathering that encourages father figures across the country to volunteer to serve at least one day or a few hours a year in a variety of school activities.

“They’re great positive role models,” said school counselor Lynne Wolk.

She said that studies indicate that students with a father figure in their lives have higher graduation rates, lower incidences of pregnancy and higher academic performance.

“The elementary schools have women, which is a good thing, but we need men,” said Principal Joanie Hovatter.

More than 2,800 programs in 46 states participate in Watch DOGS.

Wednesday’s event featured free pizza and a presentation that showed the men in attendance how they could volunteer at the school — including playing on the playground, monitoring the halls, or helping in the classroom.

Jazmin’s father, Jason, 36, said he’s always wanted to be a chaperone on a field trip.

“It’s always definitely a good thing to have a positive male role model,” he said. “Whatever they want, I’ll help out doing it.”

William Corum, 57, said he works nights and that he would have no problem helping out where his grandson, 6-year-old Sean Corum, attends school.

“They need more fathers,” he said. “There’s just not enough.”

Sean said he loved having his grandfather around because, “He plays games with me.”

Chris Randolph, 27, said he would “love” to help out.

“I’ll volunteer or help in any way,” he said. “That’d be great.”

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com