DAYTON, Ohio -
Members of UD men's basketball, football, and volleyball teams visited with students at Van Buren Middle School
Several University of Dayton student-athletes spent part of Thursday afternoon at Van Buren Middle School for an end-of-the-year celebration with sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. The event was held as a reward after the Van Buren students successfully met their goal of reading two and a half million pages over the duration of the school year. Seven Flyer student–athletes participated in the event that included playing games and talking with kids. It was a great way to reward all their hard work and wrap up the school year for the middle school students.
Representatives from the UD men’s basketball, football and volleyball squads put smiles on the kids’ faces as they competed with one another and talked sports.
Yvonne Marten, a member of the UD volleyball team had a playful competition with one of the students and talked with several of the hardworking readers. “I’m glad I came out today because it’s cool,” said Marten. “Athletes are good role models and it’s not every day you get to see that people really care.”
The company of the UD players came as a surprise to the middle school students and as word of the Flyers’ presence spread throughout the gymnasium, the atmosphere became more and more exciting.
“Oh they are very excited, very excited,” said special education teacher Michelle Roca as she introduced her approximately 4-foot-9 student to 6-foot-9 Josh Benson and Luke Fabrizius. “One of my students has not missed a game. She even walked during a snow day to see the games. She just lost her little mind. She was so excited, she couldn’t even talk.”
Sixth grade teacher Jennifer Lammlein is the co-chair of the reading program that promotes extracurricular reading and rewards hard work at Van Buren.
“All throughout the year we have kids log what they read and then the last week of school we count that up, and based on how many books they’ve read we give them a bracelet for activities,” said Lammlein. “If they’ve read over a certain number, they get any activity they want. This is our second year doing this, the kids absolutely love it, they have a good time and it encourages them to read.”
The UD student-athletes balance a lot between the classroom and athletics. They understand that reading is such a fundamental part of the everyday learning and appreciate the achievement of the Van Buren students.
“It’s the foundation for everything you do,” said junior men’s basketball player Luke Fabrizius. “I read a lot growing up. It’s something my parents made sure I did. They made sure I got this amount of reading hours in everyday, every week, to make sure I was keeping up. Now it has definitely carried over because it is something that has helped me have success in college.”
The reading program increased the number of pages to two and a half million after the students easily surpassed the previous two million page mark last year. The end of the year celebration was as rewarding to the Flyers as it was to the students. While the students got to meet some of their favorite Dayton student-athletes, the Flyers had the opportunity to give back to the community.