Dexter High School football player Dominic Lomeli helps elementary students with their homework Friday at Dexter Elementary School. The high school football team and cheerleading squad visited with the students as part of the school’s “Reading: The Ultimate Superpower” program. Noah Vernau Photo
Dexter Elementary School students welcomed some special visitors into their school Friday morning when the high school football and cheerleading squads joined them for lunch and recess. The school spirit project is intended to teach elementary students about respect and responsibility, and coincides with an accelerated reader theme this month called “Reading: The Ultimate Superpower.”
Kathleen Gallaway, DES principal, said the school’s volleyball team had visited earlier as part of the project, which came about after the school’s librarian Nancy Miles started talking with coaches about “how much the elementary students look up to high school kids.”
The football team helped students out with their reading and joined students on the playground for games of tetherball, jump rope and catch, while cheerleaders entertained students with a rendition of the school’s fight song in the cafeteria.
“My message to the teams as they came out, was please let the little ones know that respect and responsibility are two main characteristics of what students want to represent,” Gallaway said. “We want those high school kids to tell our kids that respect and responsibility and hard work pay off in the end.”
Evan Nevarez, an assistant coach for DHS football, said he thinks his players look forward to these visits even more than the kids. He said the players have “really bought into the idea” of coming to the school, and that being around the kids who go out and support the team every Friday night is the least they can do.
“We preach it as a staff, that there’s always someone looking at you — on the field, off the field, in the community,” Nevarez said. “And this is another example of that, just to kind of show them that there’s eyes on you all the time.”
DHS football quarterback Amador Amaya said it means a lot to the team and to the cheerleaders, who try to show the elementary kids “how important it is to stay healthy and active.”
Miles said she has worked in the library for 26 years and knows that sometimes when students get older they start to think they’re too busy to read. She said the project is a way to impart on students that “reading is the foundation for everything.”
“These boys have talked about how hard they have to work to keep their grades up,” she said. “Last week they talked about the books they’re reading, what their high school reading assignments are. So it’s not just a school spirit project. It’s really a way for our little kids to see that their heroes think reading is important.”