By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

From high school students to college football players, firefighters and professors, everyone was reading March 4 at Pershing Park Elementary School in Killeen.

School librarian Lara Sursa was hopeful she could find one volunteer reader for each of the school's 42 classrooms and with one grade level on a field trip, figured to have some extras.

Instead, the volunteers came in droves and more than 80 came, many reading in more than one classroom.

"It's more than I hoped for," she said, explaining that almost everyone she contacted agreed to read to students on the final day of Read Across America Week.

Teachers showed their support, stocking the library with goodies for the volunteers.

The largest groups were uniformed cadets from Ellison High School's Junior ROTC and football players and cheerleaders from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

"We came to the school to read to the children. It's Read Across America and we decided to participate," said Ellison junior Julian Brevik.

"They seem to like us," said senior Joshua Loesel. "When we were leaving, they were trying to shake our hands. I think they are a lot of Army kids."

Children asked the high school cadets in uniform their plans for college and service in the military and about their experiences in Junior ROTC.

"We just wanted to come and try to be role models and show leadership," said UMHB freshman Jake Sims, wearing his Crusaders football jersey. "Maybe some of them don't have a lot of examples to follow."

"They had fun," said UMHB sophomore Jon Ross. "They wanted to know what we play and they wanted to see the numbers on our jerseys and talk about sports they play. It was fun."

"I just thought it would be fun for the kids," said Sursa, the school librarian. "It's good for them to see people take time out of their day to come read to them.

"We've been talking about Dr. Seuss and reading. Hopefully, this hooks some more into reading."

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