A dream came true Wednesday for a first-grader at Garrisonville Elementary School.
Earlier that day, 7-year-old Jimmy Jones submitted a journal entry to his teacher in which he expressed his lifelong dream to someday meet a Washington Redskins player.
“They’re my favorite team,” he wrote. “I want to see one of the players in real life.”
Unbeknownst to Jimmy, former Washington Redskins wide receiver and Virginia Tech standout Josh Morgan was on his way to the Stafford County school for an afternoon assembly. When Morgan arrived, he met face-to-face with the young fan.
“This is better than Christmas,” said Jimmy, who spent several minutes with the former football star before older students arrived for the assembly.
The school’s fourth- and fifth-graders were selected for a visit from Morgan because of outstanding achievement in a reading program organized by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation. Morgan plays an active role in community activities through the foundation.
Morgan participated in a lighthearted group activity with the students called “Are You Smarter Than a Gator,” in which students helped him answer science, math, reading, social studies and Redskins trivia questions. Nearly 200 cheering and exciting students gathered in the school’s gymnasium to participate in the event.
“School visits are a way the Redskins Charitable Foundation recognizes a school whose students are excelling in reading through its ‘Redskins Read’ program,” said Tammy Torino, a teacher who serves as the school’s reading specialist.
The program is competitive in nature, made up of nearly 150 schools throughout Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Students pick their own books, then compete for prizes and recognition by completing various exercises and assignments in their official “Playbooks,” issued to each student who participates in the program.
“Some of those challenges include focusing on a book’s main idea and supporting details, main characters, the setting of the story and the plot,” said Torino. “By participating in the program, schools accumulate points which earn them a chance to host a professional football player in their own school.”
Morgan told the students, “I read a lot in college. When I was young, Dr. Seuss was my favorite. I didn’t have opportunities to travel when I was a kid, so reading gave me an opportunity to use my mind to travel.
“Reading is fun, important and educational. Everything you do in your life revolves around reading, so read a book every day if you can.”
During his professional career, Morgan also played for the San Francisco 49ers, the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints.
As a result of the school’s selection for a visit by the former Redskins player, the school also received 250 new books, including “The Wild Robot” and selections from the Lemoncello series.
Wednesday’s assembly was originally slated for February, but had to be rescheduled because of snow.