Stay in School Event - Higginson-Lewis K-8 School
ROXBURY, Mass. – The Stay in School program presented by Arbella Insurance has emphasized the importance of education to thousands of Boston Public School students for more than two decades. On Monday morning, Celtics Legend Dana Barros, Lucky and director of community relations and player development, Matt Meyersohn, joined emcee Coach Willie Maye to kick off the 21st year of the Stay in School program at Higginson-Lewis K-8 School.
The event began with a basketball clinic for 25 students who learned ball handling, shooting and defensive fundamentals from Barros.
“I will tell you all a secret,” said Barros. “Everyone talks about the importance of practicing and they’re exactly right, but if you don’t have the right form then practicing does not help you much. In order to be a great shooter, you should always place the basketball next to your head with your elbow pointed to the basketball. Extend your elbow to the goal as you shoot.”
Following the basketball clinic, the students were joined by their classmates in the gymnasium to hear Barros, Lucky and Meyersohn explain the importance of the acronym P.R.I.D.E. – Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Decisions and Education.
Barros spoke about perseverance and how he would have never made it to the NBA without that attribute.
“I was a small guy,” said Barros. “No one thought I would succeed in basketball but I knew I would prove them wrong. I would wake up every morning as a kid, eat my breakfast and go outside and play basketball. I only stopped for lunch and dinner. I would even dribble when I walked to work on my ball handling. I persevered because I set a goal and worked to reach it. Whatever you want to be in life, whether it be a lawyer, doctor or musician, set a goal and work hard.“
Transitioning from perseverance to respect, Lucky discussed how respect is essential in one’s life.
“One of the responsibilities of my job is to lead a crowd during games,” he said. “In order to do this, you’ve got to have a lot of confidence and confidence comes from having respect for yourself. You all should respect your education as you work toward your careers. More importantly, have respect in yourself and push through the hard days.”
Meyersohn then explained the significance of integrity.
“Integrity is the idea of doing the right thing not just because someone is watching, but doing it because it is the right thing to do,” he remarked. “I would not be where I’m at today without having integrity. Growing up, you will deal with a lot of peer pressure, you will have to make decisions, which Lucky will talk about in a moment, but always remember to do the right thing.”
Doing the right thing also means making the right decisions, which Lucky touched on next.
“Growing up I thought I knew what I wanted to be, and FBI agent. I had plans set in motion including joining the military. However, as I got older, gymnastics and performance became passions of mine as well,” said Lucky. “I had a decision to make and it wasn’t an easy one because I thought I had my life planned out. Yet, it became clear that I wanted to perform. I made the decision to use my talents as a mascot and as I stand here talking to you guys right now, I know I made the right decision. I love what I do. You all will have millions of decisions to make throughout your life from what you’re going to eat for breakfast to what college you want to go to. Follow your heart and you will make the right decision.”
Barros closed the speaking portion of the program by reiterating the importance of education.
“Education was huge in my family as a child. From first grade up until eighth grade, I only missed two days of school,” he said. “My mom wouldn’t let me miss school for anything. She knew that getting an education was the only way to succeed. I kept my grades up all through high school and because of that and basketball I was able to attend Boston College on a full scholarship. Take your education seriously. No matter what you want to be when you grow up, you need an education to achieve it.”
Barros, Lucky and Meyersohn’s words were powerful and the students were a captive audience. It was evident to all that their words had resonated with the students. To further emphasize the importance of education, six students were selected as M.I.P.’s (Most Improved Pupil) and received an autographed basketball by Barros and Lucky.
As the event came to an end, for the first time ever in Stay in School history, Lucky performed a dunk show for the students and had Higginson-Lewis’ principal, Joy Salesman-Oliver, assist him. Not only did he make incredible dunks, but his moves also reinforced the acronym P.R.I.D.E. Without perseverance, respect, integrity, decision-making and education, he would not be living his dream for all of those students to watch first-hand.