BUFFALO — In 2002 Buffalo Elementary began a reading program called “Reading with Roscoe.” Then-Union County football standout Roscoe Crosby visited the school on Fridays to read to some of the students.
The Friday ritual has continued over the years, evolving after Crosby’s graduation to “Reading with the Yellow Jackets.”
“We feel that it’s important for kids to know that you aren’t successful just because you’re good at football,” said Buffalo Principal Melissa Inman. “You need to be educated as well.”
To kick off this year’s reading program, the second-grade class received a visit from Union County quarterback Keiston Smith and wide receiver Kalay Jones who each read aloud to the attentive bunch.
After story time, the two fielded questions and signed autographs.
“The kids feel like these guys are celebrities,” said second-grade teacher Teri Lawson. “They’ve been really excited, like, ‘Is it time?!’”
At 8 a.m. Friday morning, Lawson led her eager horde into the cafeteria where Smith and Jones were waiting in the “Beehive.”
“The Beehive is a sacred area,” explained Inman. “That’s our little space just for reading with the Jackets. It’s not just football players that come out — we have athletes from all sports — but, of course, football is their favorite.”
Smith said it was an humbling experience for him.
“I remember when I was young and coming through Buffalo myself,” recalled the Jackets star quarterback. “We really looked up to those guys that came and read to us and I think it’s important to give back.”
Jones — Union County’s heavily recruited receiver — agreed with Smith, emphasizing the importance of being positive role models.
“These kids look up to us,” said Jones. “It’s up to us to set good examples for them and it’s also important that they know how to read — that’s a skill you use all through life.”
Sports Editor Tiffany Grady-Hudgins can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 17, or by email at email@example.com.