Mary Peacock Elementary School is taking part in a national program designed to get more dads and other positive male role models involved with their students.

According to Mary Peacock Principal Lara Hirt, the school is partnering with Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program.

The national program seeks to provide positive male role models for students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important. It also provides an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce school bullying, according to Hirt.

Hirt introduced the program to a group of dads and other male role models at a special Dads’ and Pizza Night on Wednesday. In addition to providing for a fun event, the goal of the evening was to get more dads to sign up to volunteer at Mary Peacock at least once during the school year, Hirt said.

“A lot of dads have jobs that make it difficult to come to school during school time,” she said. “There’s still a perception that women take care of the kids sometimes. There are a lot of women educators and our efforts are a little female-friendly. We wanted to do something different, something that reached out to our dads.”

Though the main outreach is to dads, Hirt said she has seen uncles, brothers and family friends sign up to be a father figure as well.

Hirt said she’s hoping to get more dads to sign up to volunteer a full day at the school. Though they will spend some time in their child’s classroom, the volunteers will be sent to a variety of classrooms, helping with academics. They’ll also volunteer on the playground during recess, Hirt said.

“At the beginning of the day we’ll take a picture of our superhero dads with their kids,” she said. “They’ll go up on the Dads’ Hall of Fame bulletin board.”

Local California Highway Patrol Cmdr. Larry Depee brought his third- and fourth-graders, Gavin and Danny, to eat pizza. Depee said he likes to volunteer during the physical education classes and other areas volunteers are needed in.

“It’s a great opportunity to spend more time with them,” Depee said.

At the event, Hirt said she was amazed how many guys show up. She noted there were dads, grandparents, boyfriends, stepdads, uncles and other male role models.

“It’s not about the pizza,” she said. “We may be on to something inviting dads to engage.”

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