The students of Laurelwood Elementary School have been busy participating in the school wide reading contest, and on Tuesday, April 27, members of the San Jose Earthquakes took time out of their busy schedule to congratulate those children and honor the top readers in each grade.
Earthquakes defender Craig Waibel, midfielder Ian Russell and forward Jamil Walker, as well as the Quakes' new mascot "Q", were on hand for an assembly that left students, teachers and parents smiling.
"In this day of multi-million dollar sports salaries and paid autographs, it is great that the Earthquakes take time to reach out to the youth in our community," said Jann Noto, the mother of Nicolete Noto, a fifth-grader and Mackenzi Noto, a first-grader at Laurelwood.
The players and "Q" spoke about the importance of education and reading in all people's lives and passed out the awards to the school's top readers before challenging children and teachers to a soccer skills demonstration.
"Everyone at Laurelwood has been great," Waibel said. "We really enjoy coming out to see the kids there, and I believe that it is an important part of our job as professional athletes to be an active member of this community and to try and make a difference in whatever way that we can."
Waibel and the rest of the Quakes made a difference at Laurelwood by stressing the importance of education, a fact that was not lost on the students in attendance.
"I thought they were great," Katelyn Inouye, a third-grader said. "My favorite part was when they gave out the awards."
"The Earthquakes did a phenomenal job of coming in and giving praise to our young readers," fifth-grade teacher Kaylee Hoard said. "They also emphasized the importance of education and how even professional athletes wouldn't be anywhere without it."
Other Laurelwood teachers agreed that the Earthquakes appearance was a hit at the school.
"I appreciate the Earthquakes coming to our school," second-grade teacher Sherry Drabin said. "Their focus on reading and learning impresses the students greatly."
"My daughters play soccer," Noto said. "So do many of the students here do, so these celebrities are very positive role models. Even the kids who don't play soccer are excited and asking their parents to take them to a game."
The winners of the Laurelwood Elementary School reading contest were: Sixth Grade: Nicholas Berg, Room #21 - 249.5 points; Fifth Grade: Sara Schubert, Room #18 - 373.8 points; Fourth Grade: Amanda Tun, Room #15 - 143.9; Third Grade: May Ngo, Room #11 - 78.7 points; Second Grade: Nikhil Badrinath, Room #9; 74.7 points; First Grade: Ranetta Givens, Room #6 - 4.8 points; Kindergarten: Jenesis Merriman - Mrs. McGee.