ACP Athletes Influence Andersen Elementary’s Students

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ACP Athletes Influence Andersen Elementary’s Students

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Ever since our school opened, ACP has been known for their high-achieving academics, but also the students’ selfless acts. This past Wednesday, March 6, 41 athletes from ACP’s various sports teams volunteered to read to younger students, ranging from kindergartners to fifth graders, who are enrolled at Andersen Elementary School. Our students greatly influenced the lives of these younger students, which is greatly expressed below in the interview from Kristine Nelson.

For some background information, Mrs. Nelson is an elementary school teacher at Andersen, who teaches English Language Development to grades Kindergarten to Fifth grade. Mrs. Nelson is also the Head Coach of ACP’s swim team (where I refer to her as Coach Nelson). Mrs. Nelson has given her time, energy, and love to all our students, those on the Varsity Swim Team and those not, and by encouraging our students to attend this volunteer program, she has one again influenced not only our school, but Andersen Elementary as well. Below is an interview with Mrs. Nelson on the different aspects of this volunteer opportunity:

Q1: What prompted you to get involved with allowing ACP students to read to younger kids?

A1: Actually, our school librarian reached out to quite a few schools to see if they would be our buddies.  ACP was the school that answered our request.  We wanted to be sure to have many readers who would be engaging for our youngsters. We knew that our younger students are often more interested in “big kids” and athletes who might play a sport they play, rather than adults. We had no idea that 41 athletes from five sports would come to read!

Q2: What impact do you hope this event will have on both the younger children and high school students?

A2: For our young students, my hope is that they recognize that soon they will be high school age, that they will look up to our ACP student athletes, and be motivated by them. I hope this event will help our students believe that they can achieve great things in school community events and athletics right here in Chandler.  ACP Erie is a very diverse school and so is Andersen Elementary. Our students were able to look at ACP athletes and see themselves…they look like our students who come from many backgrounds and ethnicities. A fifth grade teacher shared, “You should have seen my fifth grade boys and girls riveted to the ACP basketball players reading…I’ve never seen them so riveted and quiet.”  As I went around to classrooms, I heard fourth graders asking about when to take biology and chemistry classes, and third graders asking ACP swimmers how far they have to swim in practice.  Making those connections with high school students right here in our backyard was so meaningful. My hope is that ACP athletes recognize what a difference they made.

Q3: How has this event affected you as both a coach and a teacher?

A3: As I watched our ACP athletes read to students and answer their questions, it was joyful to see their eyes light up!  It may not be something a 16-yea- old athlete realizes, but our youngsters view high school athletes almost like professional athletes – the youngest students likely thought they were professionals!  Today, a few students told me that they knew more about high school, the classes they will take, and the choices they get to make.  A first grader remarked, “I wish I could have gotten an autograph from that cool wrestler.” I was caught off guard by how naturally our ACP Erie athletes related to our Andersen Elementary students.  It made me proud! We really didn’t expect such huge support, such an integrated effect, but it was evident in both the young students and the faces of the ACP athletes.  It was so awesome to see this happen in a school community within our own district.

Knights, our school has made not only an impact on younger students, but on our community as well. By giving our time and energy, the students who have volunteered for this project have aided the children in developing their own interests and ideas; they have helped change the future. If you or someone you know is looking for volunteer hours or simply wants to help younger children, make sure to speak with our front office on any upcoming volunteer events, such as this one.

ACP, we have accomplished a great deed this past week, so remember to keep on the lookout for more opportunities to help the younger students who may need guidance.


All images, including the featured image, were provided by Kristine Nelson.