Vinton County Viking football player Parker Shonborn (kneeling in uniform) reads to the South Elementary School students as part of the community service project the football team conducted at the district’s three elementary schools. (Telegram Photo by Red Thompson, Jr.)
Vinton County Viking football player Parker Shonborn (kneeling in uniform) reads to the South Elementary School students as part of the community service project the football team conducted at the district’s three elementary schools. (Telegram Photo by Red Thompson, Jr.)

The elementary school students and the Vinton County High School Viking football players made a special connection recently.

The players went to all three elementary schools and read to the students as a community service and a bonding project. On Monday, May 18, the players were at South Elementary and the students were very attentive.

The program started with Head Coach TJ Carper addressing the students. He invited them to the football games and spoke of community pride. Then the students formed a circle around and the players read to them. Coach Carper said the student-athlete is more than just a person who takes the field or court. He says the community provides the football team with much support during the season and that giving back is a concept the players need to learn.

The coach told The Telegram why he and the players decided to conduct this project.

“I believe our guys are role models for the younger kids in our community,” said the coach, “These kids look up to our athletes and aspire to be like them one day. They mimic everything our athletes do and having our guys read and talk to them about school will hopefully motivate them to do great things academically. I want our guys to leave an everlasting impact on the kids. I look forward to working with our elementary schools in the future and want to thank the administration for letting us do this project.”

South Principal Miranda Smith told The Telegram she appreciates the football team coming to the school and spending time with the kids.