THE BRONX - Several elected officials and businesses came together to welcome returning students back to Lehman High School Friday, hoping to bridge the gap between the two.

Last year, several businesses complained of Lehman students fighting and loitering outside their storefronts. 

The welcoming party at the school's Westchester Square campus is part of elected officials’ plans to curb previous problems at the school between students and the community.

Officials say there were giveaways and free pizza, but they hope students take away something greater from the event.

It’s part of a plan to create a positive environment for students and the business owners in the community. 

Students had the opportunity to meet with local business owners in the neighborhood so both could better understand one another.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca says he has been working with merchants to address previous after-school programs that forced some shops to close early.

Vacca met with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina to show the changes being made in Westchester Square for the new school year.