June 19, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Hughbanks Elementary School celebrates Black History with Vikings Running Back Alexander Mattison

3 min read

Photos RUSD: During a salute to Black History Month, Alexander Mattison, 23, a San Bernardino native and starting running back for the Minnesota Vikings made a visit to Hughbanks Elementary School in the Rialto Unified School District to take part in the Huskies’ Black History Celebration. Seated on stage his left, fifth-grade students Aaliyah Allen, Andrew Stewart, Jordan Weaver, Dereon Hunt, Serenity Ekeocha and Ry’lynn Rogers helped lead the assembly.

Students at Hughbanks Elementary School in the Rialto Unified School District got a special message of encouragement from a very special guest to follow their dreams at the school’s recent Black History Celebration.

Alexander Mattison, a running back for the Minnesota Vikings who grew up in San Bernardino, offered the Husky students words of encouragement, talked about his “I AM Gifted” organization as a tool for promoting good, and answered questions at the school’s assembly in honor of Black History Month. The students enthusiastically responded with big smiles and hands raised high to ask questions like “Who is the best dancer on your team?” and “When did you realize you love football? ”

Hughbanks Elementary School Principal Danielle Osonduagwuike thanks Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison for visiting Hughbanks Elementary School and helping the Huskies celebrate Black History Month with an inspirational speech about following your dreams.

While offering up inspiration, Mattison, 23, spoke to the students about one of his role models.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream,” Mattison told the students. “And you have a dream. Let your dreams take you to where you want to go like they took me to mine.”

Mattison was just as appreciative of the students allowing him to be there and offer some inspiration. 

“I’m loving the experience,” Mattison said, fresh off of interacting with the students. “For me, this is something that I can do to inspire these kids. The kids are the future. So if we can get in and inspire these kids, motivate these kids, and spread the message, we all will be able to grow together.”

After graduating high school in 2015, Mattison attended Boise State University, where he collected 2,891 yards rushing and 34 touchdowns in three seasons. He was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2019. He’s racked up 1,387 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns in his three seasons with the Vikings. 

Along with being a top-flight athlete, he’s also an outstanding scholar. He graduated high school with a 4.8-grade point average and is bilingual as a dual language immersion student. He was a three-time Academic All-Mountain West player in college, and despite being drafted after his junior season at Boise State, he took online classes and completed his degree in 2021.

“What a pleasure to celebrate Black culture and include our hero from the San Bernardino community,” Hughbanks Elementary School Principal, Danielle Osonduagwuike stated. “Mr. Mattison said his dream was to play in the NFL and his message to our scholars was that each one of them has a dream that can be nurtured in our community and realized as they discover and use their gifts. My desire is that our Huskies remain all in for their own personal success and to be PAWsitively the best!”

Fifth-grade students Aaliyah Allen, Dereon Hunt, Ry’lynn Rogers, Andrew Stewart, Jordan Weaver, Serenity Ekeocha and Malayah Theroi helped lead the assembly, which was broken up into three sessions to accommodate all grade levels, by presenting information on Black History, the poem “Hey Black Child” and guiding students in a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is known as the Black National Anthem.

Allen said that while she was nervous to present in front of her classmates, Mattison’s message helped give her motivation.

“I loved it,” Allen said. “I thought it was very inspirational. I want to be in the WNBA so I liked his message. It gave me the motivation to push for my dreams.”

Stewart said he plans to see Mattison again, one day, and this time they’ll be facing off on the field.

“I’m going to play one day, and I’m going to beat him,” Stewart said, beaming with confidence.

Meanwhile, Rogers, who dreams of becoming a lawyer, said she was appreciative of Mattison celebrating Black History Month with the Huskies. 

“I liked it that Alexander Mattison came to our school to encourage us,” Rogers said. “I think it’s really nice that we have somebody to celebrate Black History Month with.”  

The assembly also included Kameron Brantley, a Program Leader with the afterschool program Think Together at Hughbanks Elementary School, performing an original song encouraging all students to be confident in themselves.

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