South Rayne welcomes Pierre Thomas for NFL Play 60 Super School celebration
SOUTH RAYNE ELEMENTARY RECEIVES NFL CHECK - South Rayne Elementary is presented a $10,000 check as it was selected as one of only 34 schools from across the nation as a NFL Play 60 Super School Contest winner. On hand for the presentation were, from left, SRE Principal Amy Whatley, APSB Superintendent Johnny Bourque, PE teacher Tammy Guidry, Saints special guest Pierre Thomas, sponsoring teacher Debbie Broussard, SRE alumni Josh Reed who assisted with the program, and SRE counselor Lisa Pizzolatto. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
RAYNE WELCOME - Students at South Rayne Elementary welcomed Saints running back Pierre Thomas with open arms. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
CAJUN GOODIES - Saints running back Pierre Thomas is treated to a few Cajun delicacies during his visit to South Rayne Elementary for the school’s selection to the NFL Play 60 Super School Contest held Monday afternoon. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
DO YOU REMEMBER? - South Rayne teacher Debbie Broussard and Pierre Thomas discuss a few pictures she has collected of the Saints running back over the years. Broussard’s letter led to Thomas’ visit to the school for the NFL Play 60 Super School Contest. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
EXERCISE TIME - Students at South Rayne Elementary are joined by Saints running back Pierre Thomas during their 60 minutes of exercise during Monday’s NFL Play 60 Super School program. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
By Lisa Soileaux
The 2013-2014 school year at South Rayne Elementary began on a sour note to say the least. The day before school was set to open, fire damaged the gymnasium, the oldest public school gym in the parish — and a cherished landmark.
The gym was repaired by the holidays and physical education classes, along with programs and events resumed. But, there was still a dark cloud looming over the school year.
As the end of the school year approached, long-time SRE teacher Debbie M. Broussard had a surprise in store that would place a “gold star” on the school year’s grade sheet.
Through countless hours of communications and a letter submitted by Broussard to the NFL, South Rayne Elementary was selected as one of only 34 schools from across the nation as a “NFL Play 60 Super School Contest” winner.
Winning schools receive a $10,000 NFL Play 60 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment and a visit from an NFL player. The NFL program has been part of the league’s Back to Football efforts since 2010, recognizing deserving elementary and middle schools across the country.
And for those who know Broussard and her life-long love for the New Orleans Saints, it’s easy to conclude what team she wanted to attend SRE — and that wish came true Monday afternoon.
In addition to the school receiving the $10,000 grant, Saints running back Pierre Thomas — the black and gold’s No. 23 — made the school’s program even more enjoyable.
Thomas was greeted with a welcoming party of students and staff participating in a “Who Dat” chant and music throughout the school halls. He was treated to a Cajun meal including boudin and fried frog legs, among other treats provided by Pat Bordes II and his staff from Fezzo’s Restaurant in Crowley.
Thomas enjoyed the meal in Broussard’s classroom, which, incidentally, is always decorated in Saints’ black and gold memorabilia —“from top to bottom,” he noted.
“I’ve been a Saints’ fan since before you were born,” Broussard told Thomas as the running back signed a couple of cherished items she has collected over the years. “You name the game, I can tell you what the team did, and probably if you had a good game.”
Once the formalities concluded, complete with a special care package from the City of Rayne presented by Mayor Roland Boudreaux, it was time to meet the students in the gym. Decorated in the traditional Saints’ black and gold, Thomas was introduced by SRE alumni Josh Reed, who also assisted with the afternoon program.
The program opened with a welcome for Thomas, who in turn, thanked the students and staff for a tremendous welcome.
“That was almost as good as the fans in the Superdome,” Thomas said of his welcome by everyone donned in Saints clothing and memoribilia, faces painted and cheering.
With special guests Superintendent Johnny Bourque and School Board personnel, the $10,000 check presentation was made and it was time for fun and games.
Complete with a “Who Dat Nation” banner and plenty of cheerleaders in the stands, the games/mini-camp began as students participated in five different exercise stations with Thomas’ assistance, each emphasizing fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
Once the exercise stations were completed, Thomas visited with students and staff members, complete with high-fives and words of encouragement.
With less than two weeks remaining in the school year, Thomas’ appearance lifted that dark cloud under which the year began and 2013-14 will be remembered in a positive light.