Orton Visits Putnam Heights Elementary

The intricate and fun-filled high-five routines that the Thunder goes through every game came to Putnam Heights Elementary on Tuesday, as Daniel Orton dropped by on the Rolling Thunder Book Bus and dished out books along with some high fives.

The Book Bus, presented by the American Fidelity Assurance Company, stops by local elementary schools to donate a free book to each student and on special occasions, a Thunder player will drop in and help the kids pick out books. On Tuesday at Putnam Heights, Orton swung by and helped the kids find books like Goosebumps and Holes. He got the chance to interact with the kids and even come up with some special high-five handshakes with some of the students.

“It’s good to be around kids like this and just to branch out into the community,” Orton said. “They get to see a familiar face and get to know that you’re a person too. One kid asked me if I was from another planet or a superhero. I said ‘No, I’m just like you buddy’.”

After ensuring that each kid left with their choice of book, a wristband and a bookmark, Orton decided his work wasn’t quite done. Taking the thunder.nba.com microphone, Orton tried his hand at some video journalism by interviewing Susan Carlsen, the Principal at Putnam Heights. Orton asked how the visit went for her and her students, and it was clear that everyone at the school was thrilled by how the day went.

“It means so much to our kids,” Carlsen said to Orton. “You’re an icon that they see every day. They can turn on their tv and see you. So for you to show them how much you like books, they’ll keep those books forever. They’re very excited about it.”

The articulate Orton checked out all the books the kids were choosing and commented on the many he read when he was growing up. The involvement that he showed throughout the afternoon and importance he placed for the kids on reading was an important step in helping the teachers at Putnam Elementary guide their students to read on a daily basis.

“It inspires them because they know it’s something that you do too,” Carlsen said to Orton. “They want to be like you and people that they see. It’s a big thing. We try to get the kids interested in the community at the same time so that they’re giving back. We’re preparing those kids for the community, so for the community to give back to us means a lot to them.”

That community where these kids will soon shape themselves is also the same one Orton grew up in throughout his childhood. The Oklahoma City native and Bishop McGuinness High School graduate has enjoyed being with the Thunder and back in his hometown, highlighted by events like joining the Book Bus where he can help influence the lives of young kids growing up in the same place he did.

“It was a lot of fun just coming out here interacting with the kids,” Orton said. “Just to get out into the community, the community I grew up in, was awesome.”