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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • T.O.C. readers head to elementary schools

  • This week's Tournament of Champions sees many athletes shooting hoops and performing free throws, but that's not the only thing Dodge City athletes are up to. Off the court, athletes from Dodge City High School (DCHS) and a number of other area schools are using their time to read to Dodge City's elementary schoolers.
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  • This week's Tournament of Champions sees many athletes shooting hoops and performing free throws, but that's not the only thing Dodge City athletes are up to. Off the court, athletes from Dodge City High School (DCHS) and a number of other area schools are using their time to read to Dodge City's elementary schoolers. The Tournament of Champions is an athletic tournament hosted by DCHS that invites area schools to compete. Schools include Leavenworth High School, Hutchinson High School, Manhattan High School and Maize High School. Martha Pfannenstiel decided to implement the Tournament of Champions readers program when she worked as a reading teacher at Lincoln and Lynn Elementary Schools. A fan of high school athletics, Pfannenstiel thought it would be beneficial to young children to have the athletes come and read to them. “She's a really great teacher and was thinking it would be really nice to have high school basketball athletes to Lincoln to read to the kids,” current program coordinator Dianna Unruh said. Steadily the program grew, with new teams and then cheerleaders being added. Now, in the program's 23rd year, about 120 athletes come and visit the students. On Thursday, DCHS basketball players went to read at Bright Beginnings. Later, DCHS cheerleaders read to students at Central Elementary School. More reading will take place on Friday. “I want to be a positive influence on kids by setting a good example,” DCHS cheerleader Lauren Oldham said. “It's very rewarding to see the interaction between the athletes and the students,” Pfannenstiel said. During their visits, athletes often place emphasis on the importance of staying in school. Pfannenstiel added that the response from coaches has been positive, as athletes get to count the time toward community service. “Being read to is one of the best things for students,” Unruh said. “It models good reading to them. It models the joy and love of reading.”

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