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Stanfield honored as Play 60 Super School

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STANFIELD, N.C. - More children than ever play football these days, but more of them are playing with a video game controller than with a football in their hands.

Tuesday, the Carolina Panthers and the NFL recognized Stanfield Elementary School for working to reverse that trend, honoring the school as one of 34 Play 60 Super Schools nationwide.

"When I was growing up, my mom would tell me, 'Don't come in until it's getting ready to get dark,'" said Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who joined fellow linebacker Jon Beason at the celebration. "As a kid, that's something I wanted to do - to get outside and be active and play with my friends instead of sitting in the house.

"It's so much harder now because of video games and all the things they can do in the computer era. It's harder, but I'm making mine go outside and play and be active."

For its efforts to promote the NFL Play 60's goal of getting children to play for 60 minutes each day, Stanfield Elementary won the Super School designation by incorporating fitness and nutrition into its annual Grandparents Day.

The project, spearheaded by the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), included a healthy breakfast and lunch playing off the NFL name - Nutrition For Life – as well as outdoor play stations that encouraged physical activity.

As a result, the school was selected as the Panthers' representative in the nationwide contest and received a $10,000 NFL Play 60 grant. The school also received a $1,000 grant from Proctor & Gamble in the name of "Super Parent" and PTO president Lori Furr, in addition to a $500 grant from Dick's Sporting Goods.

"This budget crisis is very tough on schools. This will allow us to buy some things that we need for the kids, and it's all about the kids," Stanfield principal Danny Poplin said.

For the kids, however, it wasn't all about the grant money. They reveled in visits by Beason, Davis, TopCats and Sir Purr to their school gym, hanging on every happening during a celebration that got students and teachers into the act.

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"If they live to be a hundred years old, this will be the day they will remember from school. This will always stand out, being able to see two No. 1 draft picks at their school," Poplin said. "You can't put into words what it means. And I think the teachers might have had more fun than the kids did.

"Twenty years in education, this may be the best day I've ever had."

The Panthers got into it and got something out of it as well.

"It just feels good to put a jersey on. It's been so long," said Beason, who hasn't played since Week 1 because of an Achilles' injury. "To get out here and play with kids and encourage them to go outside and actually play football versus playing the video game, it's great.

"When I was in elementary school, we didn't really have pro athletes or anybody come and speak to us, so we want to thank the Panthers for allowing us to come out."

Davis, who also is out for the season with a knee injury, was joined at the event by his wife, Kelli, who helped award the Super Parent award and served as a judge for a game show that featured questions about health and nutrition as well as physical competitions.

At the end, three students were selected to run through the tunnel and onto the Bank of America Stadium field when the Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

"We know kids enjoy watching us play. They're a big part of what we do," Davis said. "When we were younger, we looked up to people as athletes and football players, and we're allowing these kids to do the same thing. We're just trying to be positive role models.

"It's another great opportunity to give back. We're in a position where we can definitely go out and make a difference by encouraging these kids to go outside and play and be active. It's exciting to be able to do this."

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