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Football bus scores big with McIntyre Elementary teacher, students

Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District - McIntyre Elementary School kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato (back right), North Hills School District Superintendent Patrick J. Mannarino (back left) and Amato's kindergarten class pose in front of the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose Amato as its Fan of the Week.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District</em></div>McIntyre Elementary School kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato (back right), North Hills School District Superintendent Patrick J. Mannarino (back left) and Amato's kindergarten class pose in front of the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus  Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose Amato as its Fan of the Week.
Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District - McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Jace Plyler, 5, shows off a Steelers helmet outside the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District</em></div>McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Jace Plyler, 5, shows off a Steelers helmet outside the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.
Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District - McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Sahita VanKayala, 5, tries on a Steelers helmet outside the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. Among the kindergartners with her are Matthew Benders, 6, (front left) and Jordan Hollyfield, 5 (front right). The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week. Matthew Benders (stripes on left),6 , and Jordan Hollyfield (black T on right), 5, tries on a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District</em></div>McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Sahita VanKayala, 5, tries on a Steelers helmet outside the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. Among the kindergartners with her are  Matthew Benders, 6, (front left) and Jordan Hollyfield, 5 (front right). The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.   Matthew Benders (stripes on left),6 , and Jordan Hollyfield (black T on right), 5, tries on a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet
Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District - McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Aidyn Lynch, 6, poses in front of a Troy Polamalu jersey on the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hills School District</em></div>McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Aidyn Lynch, 6, poses in front of a Troy Polamalu jersey on the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus  Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.
Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hill School District - McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Hope Diller, 5, sits on a couch in the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Courtesy of Amanda Hartle | North Hill School District</em></div>McIntyre Elementary School kindergartner Hope Diller, 5, sits on a couch in the NBC 'Sunday Night Football' bus  Sept. 20, 2013. The bus visited the school prior to the Sept. 22 Steelers game in Pittsburgh because NBC chose kindergarten teacher Sonny Amato as its Fan of the Week.

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By Laurie Rees
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Sonny Amato considers himself a Steelers fanatic.

He's been cheering for the black and gold since he was a preschooler and now, at 35, he attends every home game as a season ticket holder.

So when the McIntyre Elementary School kindergarten teacher recently was named a “Sunday Night Football” Fan of the Week by NBC, he was elated.

“I thought it was great,” he said. “It was an honor to be picked.”

As one of four weekly winners, Amato was awarded prizes including the NBC Sports Group's “Sunday Night Football” bus making a visit to McIntryre Elementary — its first visit to a school.

The 304-square-foot bus is wrapped with bigger-than-life images of popular NFL players. Inside, it boasts a sofa and flat-screen TV; an Xbox game system featuring “Madden NFL 25;” a mock broadcast studio mimicking the space where Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth call the games.

The bus is crossing the country, covering more than 17,000 miles. The vehicle will make 17 game day stops and a Thanksgiving night game stop, plus four stops at local landmarks and events in each “Sunday Night Football” host city.

Amato's 20 kindergarten students toured the bus during on Sept. 20.

“It was priceless to see the kids' faces light up when they came out and saw the NBC football bus parked where their school buses normally sit,” Amato said.

Amy Mathieu, principal at McIntryre Elementary, said the children enjoyed the experience. “Plus, it really helped build excitement for that night's North Hills football game,” she added.

“I saw a TV and some games in there,” said Hope Diller, 5.

“It was cool when my friends wore a football helmet.”

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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