When they are not playing basketball or performing at games, students from the Thomas S. Wootton High School Basketball team and the Poms Squad volunteer their time at Fallsmead Elementary School. Basketball coach Erick Graves started the Wootton Cares Reading and Mentoring program seven years ago to give his players a way to give back to their community. The poms squad also joined the effort this year.
“I think our guys get a lot out of it. They get to see, you know, the power of their presence, and how the power of a simple high five could change a kid’s day,” coach Graves said. The student-athletes visit the elementary school on Fridays after school about seven to eight times during the basketball season to tutor the students on reading and other subjects.
“We definitely build relationships over time. We have been coming for quite a few weeks so we know each other’s names, we know each other’s families, some fun stories about each other, and every time when we walk in you can see their faces light up,” squad member Karli said. “They are kind of like big brothers and sisters,” said one of the elementary school students.
The students from the high school said they love the program because of the opportunity to give back to the younger students, giving the young ones someone to look up to, and being role models. “I went here 11 years ago, and I was in their shoes and it just feels really good to be able to give back and come back to a place where I went and kind of shaped me into who I am and try to do that for the next generation of kids,” basketball player Peter said.
Courtesy of MCPS