Standing in the hallways outside of their cafeteria, eager students, standing no taller than 5 feet, from Medora’s Elementary School conversed over which autograph they looked forward to getting most.
Chatter bounced off the white walls while the kids grasped blank sheets of paper — until their class was called to meet the star athletes of their community.
The students lined up single-file and were greeted by a row of girls and boys varsity athletes.
Each student stopped by and greeted the athletes before the inking.
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Sitting at the lunchroom tables, the kids then made sure they didn’t miss a single signature and looked over the list of names.
On Wednesday, Medora’s fall and winter varsity seniors put on their uniforms and gave back to their school.
The event began at 9 a.m., when the athletes stopped by seven classrooms and read Christmas stories to kids from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
The athletes, in groups of two to three, took turns reading a book of their choice to the students.
Huddled on the carpet, with undivided attention, the students listened intently and gazed at the illustrations with every turn of the page.
Many of the elementary students look up to the varsity athletes.
“I think the kids were really excited about everything,” Carley McCammon, a member of the girls basketball team, said. “It was fun to talk to them. You don’t realize how much they look up to you, and it was a big deal for some of them to do this today.
“It’s nice if they can have a positive role model in their lives. We have a lot of good seniors that are leading by example. That’s something I think that they need.”
Following the readings, the athletes sat at a long table and had the students go through with a piece of paper to get signatures.
“It’s pretty cool to see how the kids react when you sign their paper,” boys basketball player Jalen Beesley said. “They had smiling faces. There were a lot of high-fives.”
Brad McCammon, athletics director for Medora Community Schools and girls basketball coach, hatched the idea from his past experiences.
McCammon said he did a similar event when he was in high school and thought it was the right time for his athletes to do the reading and signings for first time this winter.
“I think it’s really important that our student-athletes are role models,” he said. “Sometimes, when we tell them that, I don’t know if they truly absorb that.
“I thought that this event would give back to the elementary, and show (the varsity athletes) what they represent to the younger kids. When they’re in a ballgame, those kids are out there in the stands. They need to be aware of what sportsmanship they show in how they react while playing sports.”
McCammon said this year’s seniors are positive role models with their actions on and off the court.
He said that the fall athletes had some of the strongest grade-point averages in recent memory.
“I thought the athletes did a really nice job,” he said. “They were able to hold the kids’ attention really well. I think it’s something I would like to start yearly with our kids. It gives the elementary kids someone to look up to while growing up.”