Hughes Heroes: Rewarding Local Readers


Before he was the head football coach at West Texas A&M University, at his last job, Hunter Hughes was asked to read at an elementary school for “Dr. Seuss Day.” 

He says this leads him to ask the question… How can I give back to the community?

Well, he’s doing exactly that with his reading achievement program… “Hughes’ Heroes.” 

These Oakdale 4th graders have every reason to be excited. 

That’s because what they accomplished in a week, was no easy feat.

“We read over 320 books,” said Gerry Prerz, Oakdale Elementary 4th grader.

About 60 students participated, so if you do the math that’s roughly more than five books per student, read in seven days.

“They assigned five schools a week to read and keep track of the books that we read. And we’d submit them on a Google doc. And then yesterday after school they announced that my class had won and I was pretty proud,” said Khara Skidgel, Oakdale Elementary 4th Grade Reading Teacher.

The reading competition is part of “Hughes’ Heroes”, a WT program recognizing reading achievement and many other accolades happening in local schools.

“It’s just a competition between several schools in the area. They do different things like skilled development, work on character, attendance. They also read the biggest thing is reading. And we just want to come and give back and let them know that their work is not going unnoticed,” said Michael Whitfield, WT Football Player: 

The week of every home game, when Coach Hughes and a WT football player visit classrooms in the Canyon and Amarillo school districts, they also come bearing gifts.

“When we first went to our first schools it was kind of like, what’s going. But now I think it’s getting around. And the excitement on the kid’s faces. When you see them, I always try to, hey you get a bag and a frisbee. And I try to downplay it, like hey it’s a frisbee, but on the back of the frisbee is a ticket to the game, and to me, that’s their real reward,” said Hunter Hughes, WT Head Football Coach.   

Coach Hughes says he plans to keep the program as long as he’s here. 

And he tells us, hopefully, that’s a long time. 

While Oakdale Elementary focused on reading, Coach Hughes says Arden Road and Canyon Intermediate raised awareness through making posters and bringing donated items for Hurricane Harvey victims.

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