Fort Rucker Primary School students, teachers and staff put on their favorite football team colors and tailgated together Aug. 30 during the school's Tailgate Day.
The annual event featured several activities for kindergarten and first-grade students including special guests, tailgate food and a pep rally featuring Daleville High School and Enterprise High School's football players, cheerleaders, mascots and bands.
While enjoying a combination of school and football fun, first-grade students were also given the opportunity to meet and hear from former Auburn offensive-lineman and Enterprise native, Jim Thompson.
Thompson talked to the kids about his football career and told them how blessed he was to play for Auburn University's football team and the Indianapolis Colts. However, he explained how everything quickly changed for him after he suffered a serious shoulder injury.
"For the first time in my life I didn't know what I was going to do," Thompson said. "The ride was over. College football and (NFL) football has been good to me. It has given me a great education. I've met hundreds of people. (I've been) given opportunities to speak to groups more than 25 years later, but I had to realize I had to get a real job."
Thompson said the most important things that kids can do is stay in school and pursue a career. He told the students the key to pursuing a real job is getting an education.
"I encourage everyone to get a high school education," he said. "Getting an education, making friends, listening to your teachers and doing the right things will help you (to) be successful in life."
First-grade teacher and organizer of the event, Lynn Irwin, said the goal of the tailgate event is to encourage students to work hard in school, teach them teamwork and encourage them to be responsible.
"We just want to get the message to these little guys that teamwork is important, education is important, setting your own goals and working to meet them is important," she said. "We think that these community members, bigger kids and adults from around the community can get that message to them crystal clear."
Following Thompson's talk, kindergarten and first-grade students headed outside to the bleachers where members of Daleville High School’s band, cheerleaders, football players and “Big D” — the school’s mascot — greeted them.
Students enjoyed cheering and clapping along with the DHS cheerleaders and band members. First-grade student Steven Landa also got to see his big sister, Samantha Seibold perform.
Seibold is a senior and DHS cheerleader. She said she loves performing in front of her friends and family and enjoyed performing for the primary school because she volunteers with the library.
She and several DHS students talked to the kids about working hard and following their dreams.
"I wanted them to take away that they need to be outgoing," Seibold said. "They shouldn't be in their shell. If they want to do something, they should go for it."
Landa said his favorite part of the event, other than seeing his sister perform, was the band.
"I liked the music," he said.
Enterprise High School's students closed out the Tailgate Day event, and Irwin called it a fun-filled event for all.