On Tuesday, students and teachers at Crestwood Elementary School celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by focusing on an educational skill that is significant to personal development in every culture: literacy.
And they did so in festive fashion, thanks to the support of some noteworthy guests.
Surrounded on the school's blacktop by "Futbol Americano" signs, Latin American flags and hundreds of cheering students, Tampa Bay Buccaneers players Quincy Black, Keith Tandy and Eric Wright were greeted with an impressive demonstration of song and dance by Crestwood students. The teachers, dressed in "Tampa Bay Bucaneros" t-shirts, rallied the elementary school students with the help of Buccaneers cheerleaders and Captain Fear.
Tuesday's school visit kicked off a week of Buccaneer events designed to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. The Buccaneers, along with the NFL's other 31 teams, are acknowledging the occasion through efforts at designated home games and community outreach.
The Buccaneers are donating more than $10,000 in new books to Crestwood Elementary, whose large student body is more than 70 percent Hispanic. On Wednesday night, the students will have a chance to personally select a new book to take home as a part of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Family Night, where children will also participate in football drills. While the kids play, parents will take part in breakout sessions in which they will discuss the significance of reading and parental supervision outside of school.
On Tuesday, the players made personal visits to each of the second grade classrooms to read a story to the students. Wright, enjoying one of his first community outreach events as a Buccaneer, took great joy in his opportunity to bring smiles to the children.
"I had a lot of fun," Wright said. "They had a great assembly with nice music and a lot of energy. Also, I get to be an elementary school student for another day. Reading is the foundation to education. For these kids, I think it's important to expand their imagination and pull them away from the video games and TV."
Crestwood Principal Rosalind Daigneault was overjoyed by the Buccaneers' generosity and believes that the team's donation will benefit every student at Crestwood.
"We are a school with a very high poverty rate, so many of my students do not have the funds to purchase books for a home library," Daigneault said. "The Buccaneers giving every child a voucher [to buy a book] at the book fair is huge."
Even more inspiring to Daigneault was the players' message to the students, where they spoke on keeping both the mind and body active and healthy.