For an hour, the lunchroom at Longfellow Elementary School felt like a football game day at the University of Toledo.
The atmosphere was energetic, and at times, chaotic, as Longfellow Elementary students ate lunch with University of Toledo football players and the Start High School cheerleaders.
University of Toledo football player Cameron Bell, a tackle from Cleveland, eats lunch with kindergartners Micheal Wealleans and Brad McGlown, right, at Longfellow Elementary School.
Longfellow collaborated with UT football and Start High to celebrate “No One Eats Alone" day. The “No One Eats Alone” campaign strives to combat bullying and boost self-esteem by ensuring all students feel included and accepted.
A group of whooping cheerleaders greeted the young students before grabbing their meals and eating with some new friends. The players interacted with the students, asking them questions and playing with them during lunch. UT’s mascot, Rocky, and Walleye hockey mascot, Spike, circled the room giving high-fives and fist bumps to the wide-eyed students.
Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Romules Durant said he was excited about a program that brings students together and emphasizes the importance of social interaction.
“Sometimes bullying is an aspect of isolation and when kids are sitting alone and no one is stepping up to befriend them, that develops challenges as well as isolation and depression,” he said.
The football players engaged the students and asked them questions to keep the conversation going.
“If you could be one animal, what would it be?” Devonte Dunn, a freshman UT football player, asked a table full of first-graders.
“I want to be a lion because they run fast,” said Marshall Cain, 7, as he looked up at the 6-foot, 2-inch defensive lineman.
Students smiled, laughed, and played with balloons during the 30-minute lunch period.
“It was cool,” the young Cain said.
Mr. Dunn said he enjoyed coming out to the elementary school and spending time with the students.
“It’s pretty fun to hang out with some of the kids and have fun with them,” he said. “It’s good for them to have people to look up to and we show them a positive example.”
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.