The Redskins rookie class participated in their second community club event and travelled to northwest Washington, D.C., to reward students for finishing in second place in the Redskins Read Program.*
"Raise your hand if you like to read!" co-emcees Kiara and MenKaurea told a packed auditorium of their Raymond Education Campus classmates.
Everyone's hands shot up in the air and they all screamed, a sign that they had come prepared for their Reading Pep Rally, the prize for finishing in second place in the 2015-2016 Redskins Read Program, hosted by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
And while the heat in Northwest Washington, D.C., might have usually been a detractor for such animation, it was clear that the second through eighth graders knew exactly why this Friday afternoon deserved such excitement.
The 2016 Redskins Rookie Class joined the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation for a Reading Pep Rally at Raymond Education Campus in Washington D.C. on Friday, May 27, 2016.
Walking through the double doors behind them, the entire Redskins rookie class emerged as local celebrities, high-fiving to rousing applause to the front of the stage, where their appearance alone was enough of a reward for the school's dedication to their reading "playbooks," activity books designed to foster comprehension for 4th and 5th grade students.
What better way to kick off a three day weekend than with a touchdown dance competition hosted by the rookies.
Wide receiver Josh Doctson, cornerback Kendall Fuller and running Robert Kelly served as judges and raised paddles with numbers for scores. And while the rest of the rookie group began coaching some lucky students from the crowd about how to dance, it was clear most didn't need anyone's help.
"I mean a lot of people were doing the same dance," Doctson laughed. "But, you know, it was fun. It created a good atmosphere so everybody enjoyed it."
That continued upstairs, when the large group was split up into several pairs and trios and joined select classes to say hello and start story time.
"I thought it was a real big deal for the kids today," said Kelly, who let quarterback Nate Sudfeld do most of the reading in his group. "It may not have seemed like a big deal for us, but it seemed like a big deal for them. For most kids it would probably be life changing for them, you never know."
Doctson read "Rain Talk" with Fuller and said that the book, populated with pages about rain storms, ends with sunshine, extending the message that "there's always light at the end of the tunnel."
"They look up to us because of our position and that is the thing that comes with this job, we really have a platform where they'll listen to us and they listened a lot today," Doctson said.
Offensive lineman Nila Kasitati spent time reading "The Boy of the Three-Year Nap" and knows the experience was one that the students will remember as they grow up.
"I love doing stuff like this," Kasitati said. "Getting a chance to give back to the community. It reminds me of when I was a kid, just people you look up to and wish they'd come over and do stuff like this. Hopefully it was as good for them as it was for me."
For Tarianda Ruston, the school's social worker, the day was the perfect culmination for students at Raymond Education Campus who worked hard in their playbooks all school year long.
"It's really exciting for the students who participated in the reading program and to have incentives and then to actually see Redskins players," she said. "Hopefully it continues to encourage them to read."