Aubie’s appearance commemorated the students’ week-long study of college football and the tradition’s associated with it.
Long before the Auburn mascot’s visit was over, school instructors knew that Aubie’s appearance had been a hit not only with the students in the program, but many of the adults who came to watch him play with their children.
“Everyone loved seeing Aubie — it was absolutely wonderful to see him playing and interacting with everyone there,” Bridget Tannehill, an instructor with the program, said. “Our children in the program have come to thank us for bringing Aubie to see them so many times since his visit. We’ve had a great deal of positive feedback from the experience and it was a tremendous success for us.”
Each week, a special theme is selected for the afterschool program that is centered around an upcoming holiday or event, or an area of study the program’s administrators believe the students would find fun and exciting.
“We’re currently preparing for Veteran’s Day and we have a scheduled visit from the McWane Science Center that will take place soon,” Tannehill said. “We’ve had nurses and bankers speak to our students and we’ll be having police officers also speaking to them. Within the appearances by these professionals, we hope to encourage our students to see the benefits of staying in school and that education — while necessary — can be fun and can make them successful.”
During college football week, the students were treated to a tailgate party where they viewed video highlights of Auburn and the University of Alabama Football teams — as well as the on and off-the-field antics and activities of Aubie and Alabama’s mascot, “Big Al”. The day culminated with the appearance of Aubie, who was as eager to see the students as they were to see him.
Aubie proved his visit was not just for photographs and waved greetings as he played with the students on the playground, engaging in games of football and tag and pushed children on the swingset before taking his own turn on the swings.
The afterschool program, which began five years ago, is geared toward supplementing the students’ everyday academic activities with additional studies in various subjects. Projects involving art, dance, photography, science, sign language, fitness and crafts — dubbed “enrichment classes” — are undertaken by participating students based upon their grade levels. The projects are rotated every two weeks to encourage the students’ interest in the subject, as well as to give each age group in the program an opportunity to study the subject two times per year.
Together with the enrichment classes, the students also are given time for recreation on the school’s playground every day, along with assistance with their homework and tutoring for students who might find a particular school subject challenging.