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CLASS ACTS: Lions fall athletes read and play with Lewis & Clark first-graders

Mrs. Nett's class wrote hundreds of letters to St. Helens High juniors and seniors

PHOTO CREDIT: MICHELLE NETT - From left, Lions senior lineman Brayden Garver, senior quarterback/cornerback Tucker Mosley, senior lineman Miguel Olmedo and first-graders Rodriguo Ramirez-Tapia and Amelia Paul (foreground), Natalia Navarro-Orozco, Pete Hawk, Calluna Osorio-Howard, Johntae Etzel and Emma-May Fogle play 'Last Shape Wins' in Mrs. Nett's classroom at Lewis & Clark Elementary in St. Helens.PHOTO CREDIT: MICHELLE NETT - From left, Paula Perez-Tapia, Jasmin Verdin-Rios and Lions senior wide receiver Nick Ramos play 'Number Flip,' a counting game.PHOTO CREDIT: MICHELLE NETT - Mrs. Nett's Lewis & Clark Elementary first-graders show off letters they wrote back and forth with Lions fall athletes. Front row, from left: Jasmin Verdin-Rios, Bella Krahn, Paula Perez-Tapia, Rodriguo Ramirez-Tapia, Amelie Paul and Isabel Brown. Back row, from left: Kasey Porter, Natalia Navarro-Orozco, Alex Balderas-Anguiano, Guinevere Johnson, Pablo Garcia, Pete Hawk, Oscar Tapia-Sanchez, Wyatt Ochoa, Isaac Quezada-Felix, Austyn Osterbauer and Calluna Osorio-Howard.St. Helens High athletes and Lewis & Clark Elementary first-graders had a great time together this fall.

Michelle Nett's first-graders welcomed Lions juniors and seniors to read, write to different audiences, play game show-style math games and send hundreds of letters to their high school friends throughout the season.

"Eleven years ago, I decided to connect young writers with 'heroes' in their community," said Nett who began her 12th year in the St. Helens School District and taught in Montana before that. "My first-graders began writing to all of the St. Helens High School athletes, and I was absolutely amazed at the level of honor with which my first-graders addressed these high school students. The project has blossomed over the past 11 years into something amazing. The amount of joy on their faces was immeasurable."

Nett was happy to see high-schoolers she had as first-graders years ago.

"I show the photos and sports videos I create for the athletic celebrations at the high school with my students," Nett said. "We then write to each athlete on the fall, winter and spring sports rosters. I circulated through the room and heard nothing but encouragement and positive energy from the athletes to my students. My students, in return, showered these young men with admiration. Both sides come away giving and receiving genuine love and honor. This project has my first students now receiving letters as athletes."

Lions varsity running backs coach and math teacher Roger Patterson was glad to take up the idea. Autographs were common requests from the first-graders.

"It was a great experience to hang out with the first-graders this season," said Brayden Garver, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior offensive tackle and defensive end. "It was really funny to see how they react to all of the football players."

Patterson said the high-schoolers' response was so positive that they wanted to make another visit.

"It's very cool to see the athletes give back," St. Helens varsity coach Cory Young said. "It was great for them to see how big of a role model they really are."