Reading with the Red Hawks: Frontier students visit Whately Elementary

  • Sofia Patten, a student-athlete from Frontier, returned to Whately Elementary School, which she attended, to read to students while wearing the Red Hawks mascot costume. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Frontier student-athletes Sofia Patten, in Red Hawks mascot costume, and Amanda Fuller read to second graders at Whately Elementary School. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/28/2019 3:26:56 PM

WHATELY – Teammates Sofia Patten and Amanda Fuller were smooth with their passing to one another.

But this time instead of a field hockey ball, the Frontier Regional seniors were going back and forth Friday with a pair of children’s illustrated books they were reading to Diane Kirkendall’s second graders at Whately Elementary School. As part of the Reading with the Red Hawks program, Patten donned the Frontier mascot costume and took turns with Fuller reading from “The Candy Witch” and “The Runaway Pumpkin.”

The program, roughly 10 years old, is the creation of Frontier Vice Principal Scott Dredge, when he was head football coach. The idea is for student-athletes involved in fall sports to visit the school district’s elementary schools to read to students and develop a connection.

It started with only football players but other student-athletes expressed desire to participate and the program now includes juniors and seniors from the other fall sports for four Fridays each autumn. In many cases, the high school students return to their own elementary schools to engage with the youngsters.

“It’s a full-circle kind of thing,” Dredge said, adding that elementary schoolers often regard junior and senior student-athletes as role models. “I need them to see that kids are looking up to them.”

Frontier student-athletes visited Whately Elementary and read to children in second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades. 

“This was my elementary school and it’s so nice to see everyone and go back to where it all began,” Patten, 17, said in the hallway, wearing the entire mascot costume except for the head.

“I just love reading and interacting with the students, the future Red Hawks,” said Fuller, 18.

Kirkendall’s second graders sat attentively as the field hockey players read the two books and then asked questions.

“They’re engaged, they’re excited to see the older kids and it’s definitely good community-building between the elementary schools and the high school,” she said after Patten and Fuller left. “And it promotes sports.”

Kristina Kirton, principal at Whately Elementary School, said the program is popular with high schoolers and elementary schoolers alike. She mentioned she is interested in exploring similar programs that involve high school students that are non-athletes.

According to Frontier attendance secretary Michelle Russell, all Frontier student-athletes want to take part in Reading with the Red Hawks.

“The underclassmen can’t wait till they’re older so they can take advantage of the program,” she said.

Russell also said she would love for the program to come back in the spring.


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