On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders of St. Clement of Rome hustled into the gym eagerly awaiting a visit from New Orleans Saints players and a lunchtime pizza party from Rotolo’s Pizzeria.
Each time the gym doors opened, no matter who was entering, the students would cheer hoping it was their special guests. Once they were greeted by three Saints players: defensive ends
Each player shared how important reading was in his childhood and how much of an impact it made. All reminisced on how their parents played a significant role growing up to love reading.
At first, Hicks laughed as he asked all of the kids to raise their hands if they loved reading. Most of them did. However, when he asked them if they liked to read after school, some of the hands fell.
Reddick loved the "Harry Potter" series and Jordan loved "Goosebumps" and "The Hardy Boys." Hicks talked about how he now loves reading his “super thick” game day play books.
Reddick said, “I’ve played football since I was 6. But every day after school, my mom would make me read for at least 30 minutes before my activities. She would always make sure I had my homework done, that I read, and that my mind was stimulated before my next day at school.”
Jordan also talked about how thankful he is for his parents.
“Before I ran outside to play with my friends, my mom would always ask me if I read. Of course, I would tell her I did so she would let me go. Then I would get caught when I couldn’t make up a story fast enough,” Jordan said. “She would then make me stand up and read out loud to her. Reading really inspired me to study hard in college.”
After the blank stares from the students, he said, “Well, you guys don’t know about that yet. But you will!”
At the end of the talk, the kids were allowed to ask the players questions ranging from “Do you get scared before the games?” to “Do you have an agent?” The players smiled as they went down the line and answered everyone’s questions.
Immediately following, the kids were challenged in a game of three-question trivia. Those who answered the questions correctly received a Saints yearbook signed by the players.
This year, through Rotolo’s Literacy Visits, the Louisiana-born company is incentivizing local students. Students who read three books receive a free Rotolo’s kids’ meal and drawstring backpack courtesy of Rotolo’s.