MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - September is Attendance Awareness Month. As part of it, some football players from Meridian High are taking their skills off the grid iron to help fellow students win what some might call, "the biggest game of all...'life!"
For the past few Fridays throughout this month, different members of the MHS Wildcat team have been volunteering their time to greet students at T.J. Harris Elementary as they arrive.
"Good morning Harris, my name is Jalen Brown," is what one of the players told students at the school over the school wide intercom during the morning announcements.
School administrators say having the players and others from the community show concern for the younger students, while stressing regular attendance, makes a big difference.
"The students get out of the car ready to go," says Principal Jennifer DuPont. "They're so excited, and they want to be here because they never know who's going to be here supporting their attendance."
"It's good for our players," says Eric Neel, who is an assistant football coach for the Wildcats, and also the P.E. teacher at T.J. Harris. "Doing this helps to build their self esteem, and it helps them realize how important they are not only to Meridian High, but to the whole city of Meridian."
"If a student even misses two days of school a month they can fall behind academically," says Principal DuPont.
"Football is going to end for everybody, and an education is something that last forever," says Neel.
That's a life lesson that school officials hope both the players and younger students have learned.
"Good morning T.J. Harris. My name is Eddie Brown, and I want all of ya'll to be successful in life!"