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The Saint Comes Marching In

November 30, 2011

Zach Strief of the New Orleans Saints Visits Reed Elementary (Photo by Laura Slotkoff)

By Laura Slotkoff, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Reed Elementary

“Who here wants to play pro sports?” An astounding number of hands stretched upwards among the captivated students.  “And what do you need to get there?” asked Zach Strief , Tackle for the New Orleans Saints. “School! College! Education!” came the chorus of answers from around the crowded room. He confirmed their answer, all 6’7” of him towering over them.

This was just one of several powerful messages he had for the students of Reed Elementary yesterday. From the 1st graders to the 8th graders, they all raptly watched as a legendary Saints player told them the tools they (and we all) need to succeed. He stressed the importance of eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep. He told them very straightforwardly to stay in school and not to do drugs. “Drugs will unravel anything good going on in your life,” he told them. “Anyone who encourages you to do them is not your friend.”

One message I related to was when he told them that they need to work hard and study today.  They can’t slack off until high school.

I can still vividly remember feeling this way in elementary school; the irrelevance of schoolwork to my life because the notion of college was impossibly far away and abstract. One thing I strive for with my students is to relate their learning in concrete ways to their life, so they can truly understand its importance and be motivated to succeed. As Mr. Strief informed them, “You cannot build a house without the foundation.”

Zach Strief left our students with a challenge, one that I now propose to you. To have a good or bad attitude is a conscious decision you make. I challenge you to wake up tomorrow and decide to have a better attitude for one day. Be respectful of others, work hard towards your goals and be good to yourself. If you can do it for one day, you can do it for two, three, four. If for no other reason, do it because Zach Strief said so, and just look where it got him!



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