‘Be a powerful presence’: Group of dads make sure students feel safe at local school

CHARLOTTE — A group of local dads is going out of their way to ensure students feel safe at their north Charlotte elementary school.

This isn’t something new, but it means so much more for parents and students at Highland Creek Elementary following the deadly shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

These dads started helping on campus about seven years ago. Normally they only greet children as they arrive on Fridays, but this week was different and they felt like they needed to be at the school earlier.

“We are not mental health experts. We can’t change policy. We can’t change laws. We are not police officers. We are not carrying guns, but what we can do is show up and be a powerful presence,” said Dion Jones, with the group Be Their Dad.

That’s what they’re doing, in the wake of the shooting that hurt and frightened so many.

One father said he tried to reassure his daughter she was safe, but he admitted after what happened in Texas, he wasn’t convinced himself. That was until he showed up to see welcoming faces at the school.

“It made me feel assured,” Jones said.

And that’s what these fathers from “Be Their Dad” wanted to achieve.

“We brought smiles. We are dads. We are here for you,” said father Peyton Brown.

“We literally wear it on our sleeves -- the power of presence. Showing up, being there, reassuring them with love, with guidance, with protection,” Jones said.

The dads even walked the halls and saw smiling faces looking back at them.

“Teachers crying, hugging us going into the school. Parents waving, smiling,” Brown said.

The principal also posted about their presence on campus.

“It just made my heart smile to hear,” Jones said.

Channel 9′s Ken Lemon caught them as they were ending the school day on Thursday, but they plan to be out front every morning for the rest of the week.

“We have been here, we will be here for this school community,” Jones said.

One dad said it’s very important for the children to feel secure now. The students are doing end-of-grade testing, and everyone wants to make them feel comfortable and limit distractions.

(WATCH BELOW: CMPD increases police presence at elementary schools amid Texas massacre)