Mariners Dream Team to visit local childrenBY AMY CODISPOTI | JOURNAL REPORTER
What started with a dream produced the
Mariners Dream Team
“I hoped that the Mariners would have a community service program that would offer free souvenirs to the children baseball caps, posters, or even just little Mariners key chains,” she explained.
But, in her investigation she discovered the Dream Team Caravan and rather than simply getting some memorabilia to pass out to students, she got Mariners pitchers J.J. Putz and Mark Lowe, accompanied by the team’s mascot, to personally visit the school.
“I had no idea that they even did that,” she said with a broad smile. “When I saw the Dream Team Caravan on the Mariners website, I wrote a letter to them and before I knew it they’d written back and put us on their tour!”
Bashour’s office isn’t a quiet one, with Reading Corps children streaming in to choose from an assortment of rewards and prizes they’ve earned by meeting their reading goals.
“The students work really hard to meet the goals,” Bashour explained. “For example, they have to read 20 books to earn ten points which earns them their first prize. When they hit that mark, they get a sailboat on the wall with their name on it and can come in to pick out a toy.”
On January 23, the students gathering their prizes bore especially bright smiles. Not only was it an assembly day but it was an assembly hosted by the Mariners and their lovable Moose mascot.
The students’ contagious energy and laughter reverberated through the long hall where they lined up before walking through the gym doors where Mark Lowe and J.J. Putz stood by, wearing their Mariners jackets.
The event drew parents eager to snap a shot of their kids’ reactions to the event and Granite Falls Mayor Lyle Romack also came to show his support for the Reading Corps program.
After everyone was seated, the Dream Team MC introduced the star pitchers and the comical Moose, who the students welcomed with a particularly rousing cheer as he bumbled and bounced to the front of the gym.
“The Moose was so cool and funny,” said 8-year-old Conor White after the assembly. “I can’t believe he came to our school! I only saw him before at a Mariners game.”
Maria Jacobus agreed, saying the Moose was her favorite.
“But, I think he should clean up his mess!” she said with a laugh, commenting on the mascot’s confetti and streamer strewn entrance.
While the event was entertaining, it was also a learning experience.
Putz shared with the youth the value of a solid education.
“Baseball is just a game and that can be taken away tomorrow,” he said. “The one thing no one can take from you is your education and it all starts where you are right now. So pay attention to your teachers and parents, study hard, go to college and make the most of your life.”
Lowe continued by illustrating the power of an attitude kept in check.
“Attitude is key to fulfilling your dreams,” said Lowe. “I had elbow surgery in October and I’m going through rehab right now. I have to keep a positive attitude, and remember my dream, live my dream and know I’ll be back on the field again.”
The duo spoke strongly of respect, while the Moose (with help of the MC) emphasized the power of motivation in seeing dreams become reality.
“I think the most important thing the Mariners talked about today was staying away from drugs and how we should read a lot,” Jacobus said.
Staying drug-free, showing respect for self and others, education through reading, maintaining a positive attitude and motivation is the foundation of the Dream Team’s comprehensive education program a perfect match to Washington Reading Corps own mission.
Bashour has served as the Washington Reading Corps VISTA for Monte Cristo Elementary School since September, and strongly believes in the program’s ability to help struggling readers.
The statewide literacy program focuses on assisting struggling K-6th grade students improve their reading skills through small-group tutoring sessions using research-based practices.
“I got involved with Reading Corps after being a homemaker and a college student for almost 10 years,” Bashour said. “I spent two years in Marysville before coming here. I love the program it’s so exciting to see the kids’ growth and the relationships I’ve developed with the kids is very rewarding.”
In addition to improving reading skills, the Washington Reading Corps places a strong emphasis on civic responsibility and making positive changes in communities by engaging in acts of service.
Volunteers and students are encouraged to learn about their community, to find the needs of their community and to participate in service projects that meet those needs.
Last Tuesday’s assembly demonstrates a key part of Bashour’s responsibility with VISTA: implementing literacy events to boost involvement and community support.
“We’re just so thankful that the Dream Team could come here,” said Bashour. “It was a special opportunity for the kids to hear the same message, but from their everyday heroes.”