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Posted February 6, 2013

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Bears Read to Young Students, Serve as Role Models

La Cueva High athletes visit neighborhood elementary schools as a part of a program supported by the APS Education Foundation that promotes literacy, teamwork, acceptance and perseverance.

Go here to watch a slideshow of the La Cueva Bears reading to neighborhood elementary school students.

La Cueva High volleyball player Hannah McAlister leans into the first graders she’s been reading to at North Star Elementary and prompts them to repeat the book’s positive message.

“Patience,” the students say in unison, “practice, persistence.”

In another first-grade classroom across the hall, cross country runner Michael Springstead asks a group of youngsters to list the ingredients in s’ mores. “Marshmallows,” they reply, “chocolate, graham crackers.”

And in yet another room, basketball star Bryce Alford gets young readers to sign a pledge card promising to do their homework, read, practice good sportsmanship and go to school every day.

“Take these home, put them on your fridge and remember to do what they say,” said Alford, one of more than 60 La Cueva athletes who travel to neighborhood elementary schools as part of a literacy program that started this school year.

The program in the brainchild of La Cueva counselor Debbie Easton, an Ohio State University alum who modeled it after OSU’s 2nd and 7 Foundation formed by former football players who wanted to make a difference by promoting literacy and providing positive role models for children.

Easton contacted the 2nd and 7 Foundation, which embraced the idea of creating a sister program in Albuquerque, providing books with positive messages about teamwork, acceptance and determination written specifically for the project.

La Cueva athletes representing every sport as well as coaches, teachers and administrators take those books with them when they visit first, second and third grade classrooms at nearby schools including North Star, Double Eagle, Hubert Humphrey, Dennis Chavez and E.G. Ross. They read to and along with the young students, serving as role models who also talk to the kids about being successful students and athletes, facing challenges and the importance of doing well in school.

“We all love doing this,” said Alford, a senior. “It’s very humbling and we like helping these kids.”

The elementary school kids enjoy the visits as well. “I love when they come because they’re really nice and fun, and when you don’t know a word they help you,” said first-grader Skye Denton.

The successful program is getting some extra help thanks to the APS Education Foundation. Easton recently received a $5,000 Horizon Award through the Foundation that will allow her to buy more books for the program and also to give each participating school $300 for their libraries. The schools will get their checks during a pre-game ceremony at the La Cueva vs. Eldorado varsity basketball game that starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.

Visit our website for more information on the Horizon Awards. Deadline for the spring cycle is March 8.

“The La Cueva cluster serves lots of kids with a variety of backgrounds, and that some of its most successful kids are willing to take the time to help younger children says a lot about the La Cueva students and really about all of our high school students,” said Foundation Executive Director Phill Casaus. “More and more you find these kids are the ones who are deeply concerned about their communities. That’s what the Horizon Awards are all about; they reach lots of kids and they have an educational purpose, of course, but they also have a community purpose.”

Applications for the fifth cycle of the APS Education Foundation Horizon Awards are now available. Targeted areas for the awards are Fine Arts, Middle and High School Clubs or Activities, Literacy and STEM.

 

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