After-school students earn title game trip
For the second consecutive year, students in the Russellville Parks and Recreation Department after-school tutoring program have earned a pigskin field trip.
Eleven children and five chaperones were given tickets by the Shoals Area Chamber of Commerce to attend the Division II national championship football game at Braly Stadium in Florence.
The stadium, which has a 14,215-seating capacity and is the home field for the University of North Alabama and Florence High School football programs. This year's title matchup featured Minnesota-Duluth, which claimed the school's first Division II title with a 21-14 victory over Northwest Missouri State Dec. 13.
Leamon Mosley, a Chucky Mullins Center employee and a trip chaperone, said the game is a way for the program to reward the students for attending tutoring sessions throughout the school year.
"This is the second year we've done this, and it came up as a way to reward them for coming here," said Mosley. "It looked like they enjoyed themselves – we got there about 9 a.m., played basketball and putt-putt, threw a football, got in the (moon-walk), went to the cafeteria and ate and walked to the game."
Chad Sears, Russellville parks and recreation director and a former UNA football player, said taking the trip also helps promote the game, which has been played at Braly Stadium since 1986.
"Anytime they get a chance to watch a game, they get excited, and it's a chance for them to be rewarded for their schoolwork in the program." Sears said. "The pre-game activities are something they added since I played, and now they've been doing it for years.
"This is a good opportunity for the kids to have fun, and it also promotes the national championship game because if you get kids going, then the parents will probably go, too."
The free after-school tutoring sessions are voluntary, but participants must be registered to enter the program. Students can also computers with Internet access Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Chucky Mullins Center.
"They can get help with any kind of homework they have, and it's voluntary," Mosley said. "All they would have to do is come and see (tutor coordinator) Linda Freeman and sign up, and we have kids from preschool to some teenagers who are 15 or 16 that attend."
Sears credited the after-school tutors for playing a critical role in the success of the program, which averages 15-20 students per week under the supervision of three or four tutors.
"I want to thank my tutors at the CM center for doing such a great job," he said.
Brianna Brazzell, Andre Armstead, J.J. Johnson, Shemar Groce, Damon Dinsmore, Taylor Dinsmore, Patrick Dinsmore, Lucas Hankins, Nigel Stewart, Devin Jone and EJ Jones attended the game, along with Mosley, Sears and chaperones Alfred Phillips, Donald Dotson, John Carter and Alabama A&M football coach Anthony Jones.
For more information about the tutoring program, contact the Chucky Mullins Center at 332-8730.