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Hurricanes celebrate reading with students
Liberty Elementary teacher Chris Anderson accepts a commemorative helmet from the Hinesville Hurricanes. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

They played their hearts out all season, earning the conference championship trophy for the Southeast Division of the Southeastern American Football League. On Thursday, the Hinesville Hurricanes semi-pro football team celebrated another championship win when they visited with students from Reyna Reinhard’s Liberty Elementary School accelerated reading class after the kids reached their reading goals.

The students ate pizza and talked with the players as they completed their "Super Bowl" of reading.

"Every 10 yards represented 10 percent of their goals," Reinhard said, pointing to a football field chart decorated with the names of students who scored touchdowns for achieving their goals. "So, as they worked toward their ultimate goal, they got 10 yards until they reached 100 percent."

The kids ranged from second through fifth grades.

Reinhard said her reading class is a new program funded through the stimulus package. She said part of the school’s three-year goal is to become a school of excellence.

"So we want to improve our reading scores," she said. "I’m working with children who are struggling in reading to help do different remediation. The children are reading books that are on their level.
They are working toward reading more and developing a fluency because the more fluent you are in reading the more the scores go up and some of these children, in a nine week period, have gone up an entire grade level."

Reinhard said they picked the football theme because the kids could relate to it.

"A lot of the kids like or play football," she said. "And if you tie the program into something they like, they are more apt to do it."

In addition to a private party with the Hurricanes the kids were ushered into the cafeteria at 1 p.m. and were joined by nearly 200 other students, all celebrating learning accomplishments.

Hinesville Hurricanes coach James Sharp brought in 75 T-Shirts he said were sponsored by Envision Photography. The shirts were imprinted with the reading program’s motto "score big with reading."

Offensive coordinator Bobby Hawes talked about how the offense works and Defensive coordinator Michael Jones explained the defense. Both explained the importance of learning and gaining knowledge off the field.

Sharp then presented a Hinesville Hurricanes helmet to school Principal Chris Anderson.

"These players and coaches know education makes you successful in life," the principal said.

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