“A person's a person, no matter how small.” The students at Eastlawn Elementary took this Dr. Seuss quote to heart as Elon University athletes walked into their classrooms, towering over them.
Players from the tennis, soccer, volleyball and football teams read their favorite childhood books to students in kindergarten through fifth grade for the school's "Read Across America" week.
The National Education Association celebrates reading on March 2, the birthday of well-known children's author Dr. Seuss.
Eastlawn celebrated with a week of events centered around making reading fun, ranging from dressing like a Seuss character and wearing a shirt with writing on it to test vocabulary. Wednesday's theme — in honor of Thing 1 and Thing 2 — was "teams," which is where the athletes came in.
Eastlawn teacher Casey Collins '11 said the school wanted to bring in athletes to "show them the potential that you can have, you can be on a team sport, the importance of being on a team, the hard work that goes into it."
Besides reading books, the athletes also talked about balancing athletics and college academics.
Sophomore Alex Higgins said the football team and Elon Athletics strive to maintain a positive relationship with the community.
"As a football team, we just like being involved in the community around us — Elon, Burlington, Graham," Higgins said. "It’s always good to just give back when you can. And coming here and reading to these little kids, I loved it."
The students were excited to have some new teachers.
"It’s a really exciting experience for children who normally work really hard from the minute they get here to the minute they leave," Collins said. "It was nice encouragement. And what happens is they realize that reading at school is fun, and meet some new people."
Not only did the athletes become teachers, the students became fans.
"I made about 50 of them," Higgins said. "They’re going to be in the stands at the next game, or the first home game, so I can’t wait."
Looking ahead, Collins wants Eastlawn and other Alamance-Burlington schools to continue working with Elon students.
"They’re excellent with the children, they’re enthusiastic," she said. "I think they should really come work here. They’re really making an impact on our children."