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Famous 'Tommys' visit Solid Rock Academy

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Children attending Solid Rock Academy in Riverdale got a very special surprise on Friday morning, when actors and comedians, Tommy Ford and Tommy Davidson, paid a visit to their school.

Ford, best known for his role as "Tommy Strong" on the Fox television series "Martin," also is the author of several children's books. In town for his "I Got a Job: Comedy Knockout and Birthday Bash" at Center Stage in Atlanta, Ford read to preschool and kindergarten children, and gave a dose of adult wisdom to students enrolled in the elementary-through-high-school grades.

Davidson, best known for his role in the wildly popular 1990s sketch comedy show, "In Living Color," joined in on the visit, telling children about the "showbiz" industry and urging students to carry themselves in a responsible manner.

Ford, who attended a private Christian school until entering high school, said his Christian upbringing is a big part of his success. Through his books and his non-profit organization, Be Still and Know, Inc., he tries to show children they can be popular without "being rude and disgusting.

"I have a great passion for children," said Ford. "They mirror the images they perceive are cool, and my goal is to give them positive images to embrace, so they can empower themselves. They can be articulate, positive, and educated -- and still be cool."

Davidson praised Ford for taking the time to read and speak to students and said more actors should give back to the community.

"I know that only two [famous] people came to the school that I went to and those two people had such a great influence on my life," said Davidson. He said speaking with youths is the "other part" of fame, and without it, "I don't really feel balanced."

"[Ford] really inspires me and I am so glad that he invited me to be here," said Davidson. "It makes me want to get into my books. I am just lucky to be here."

Melvin Morris, executive director of Lite House Partners, Inc, a year-round, after-school mentoring program, helped coordinate Ford's visit. He believes Ford is a great model for children to emulate.

"Whenever you see Tommy out, he is well-dressed and well-groomed," said Morris. "Nobody has heard Tommy do anything out of line. He is a great example for the kids to follow."

Michael Allen, assistant principal of Solid Rock Academy, was happy that Ford is encouraging reading at an early age.

"He is proving that children who start reading at a younger age can be more successful in life," said Allen. "A lot of actors talk about giving back, but this is an example of him talking the talk and walking the walk."