Twenty members of the George Mason University men’s and women’s Track and Field team visited Daniels Run Elementary School (DRES) on Thursday to kick off their mentoring program. The student- athletes met with Principal Chris Smith and City of Fairfax Schools Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Pajardo but most importantly, sat and spoke with DRES students during lunch time.
The Mason athletes will be paired with a DRES student for one-to-one mentoring throughout the rest of the school year. “We are really excited to start this partnership,” said Mason Track and Field Co-Captain Senior Sidney Yap at the kickoff meeting. “On behalf of the entire team, we are thankful to begin.” The team is in the process of undergoing training and will meet their mentees in the coming weeks.
Principal Smith thinks the partnership will be good for both the Mason students and his elementary students. “We know how valuable it is to have positive role models for students of all ages and to be able to interact with these great students from Mason will be a highlight for many of our kids. We welcome the team to be a part of our DRES family.”
The track team visited the school officially for the first time on Thursday and showed off their A10 championship trophies to the kids. After a tour of the school, the athletes mingled with students during lunch time talking about everything from life in college to what was on the school menu that day.
For Mason freshman and thrower Bobby Kestyn, the opportunity to come to DRES was something he could not pass up – even with his extensive training, practices and class schedule. Kestyn, a graduate of Fairfax High School wanted to be able to give back to the community that raised him. “When my teammate and captain (Sidney Yap) told us about this chance, I signed up immediately. I would have loved to hang out with a college athlete when I was in elementary school, so I am excited to get to know the kids.”
This is the third partnership between George Mason University Athletics and the City of Fairfax Schools. The Mason baseball team mentors at Providence ES and the Mason wrestling team works with Lanier MS. “It is wonderful to have Mason as not only our neighbors, but as our partners and mentors to our students,” said Dr. Pajardo. “We see how important it is for young students to see college as an option and to actually meet these superb men and women from Mason will help them see what is possible.”