Warren Hope Dawson recently celebrated his 84th birthday with the students and staff of Warren Hope Dawson Elementary School in Riverview. The elementary school opened in August of 2017 and was named after Dawson, a Tampa civil rights attorney who was instrumental in the desegregation of the school system in Hillsborough County.
“He turned 84 years old and wanted a celebration with the kids and staff,” said Adrienne Bates, a fourth grade teacher at the school. “We celebrated him by a clap-in when he walked into the school and we sang ‘Happy Birthday.’ The students were pumped during the clap-in. They were so excited to see the man their school was named after. That is a core memory that they will never forget. They sang loud in the courtyard as they celebrated him. Mr. Dawson gave them a speech after they sang. He told them to keep working hard and doing their best.”
Dawson visited classrooms to see the children and staff.
“After school, we had a staff party for him,” Bates said. “He told us in his speech at the staff celebration that he worked many countless hours on civil rights cases and often worked for free. He was passionate. We are thankful for the influences he has and our school being a keepsake of that time.”
At the beginning of every school year, Dawson walks around to classrooms and greets the students as they start the year.
“He gives pep talks and pumps them up for success,” Bates said. “This year, he told administrators he wanted to come back to celebrate his big day, the big 84. He wanted to walk around to classrooms and then celebrate with the staff after school.”
Bates and the rest of the staff at Warren Hope Dawson Elementary were thrilled they could be a part of Dawson’s birthday celebration.
“During the day, students and staff went by and saw Mr. Dawson in the media center,” Bates said. “The students made him cards, and some sang to him. Mr. Dawson and his wife were both in tears. It was a great celebration. He truly cares about his school and has always been present when he can to show his gratefulness.”
Dawson Elementary is located at 12961 Boggy Creek Dr. in Riverview.