Stay in School Program Wraps Up in Roxbury

ROXBURY, Mass. – The Boston Celtics have visited youth for the Stay in School program, presented by Arbella, every month since November. Youth have had the opportunity to learn about the acronym P.R.I.D.E. (perseverance, respect, integrity, decisions, education) from Celtics players, legends and Lucky. The guest speakers have opened up about their lives as they encouraged students to take their education seriously.

Monday marked the last Stay in School assembly for the 2011-12 school year as Celtics players Marquis Daniels, Avery Bradley and E’Twaun Moore, Celtics legend Dana Barros, and Community Relations Director Matt Meyersohn visited the Tobin K-8 School.

“These Stay in School assemblies are very important,” explained Daniels. “Being professional athletes, we have a responsibility to give back to the community and let kids know that dreams do come true if you work hard. The first step to reaching their dreams is education. That’s what we emphasized today at the Tobin School.”

To kick off the event, 20 pre-selected students had the opportunity to participate in a skills clinic with the Celtics players. This time allowed for youth to learn shooting and ball-handling techniques from some of the world’s best basketball players.

Following the clinic, the guest speakers moved to the auditorium to speak to the middle school students about P.R.I.D.E as well as recognize six M.I.P.’s (Most Improved Pupil).

Speaking on perseverance, Bradley was the first to address the students.

“I’ve always loved basketball,” said Bradley. “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a court playing a game or working on my skills, but I almost gave it all up my sophomore year in high school. I was working hard and playing on the AAU circuit. I thought I was playing well, but I wasn’t ranked. I was disappointed and wanted to stop playing. Luckily, I had a great support system and instead of quitting my mom encouraged me to work harder. My dream was to go to Texas and she said I had to work 10 times as much in order to reach that goal. I listened to her advice and persevered. That next summer, I was ranked first in the nation and eventually went to Texas to play basketball. Without perseverance, I wouldn’t be here living my dream.”

Moore then talked about respect. He stressed the importance of having self-respect, first and foremost.

“Respect starts from within yourself,” said the rookie, “Being a good person and having a good attitude have helped me get to this point. I was an average college player and almost wasn’t drafted by the NBA. I was a late second-round pick. I attribute being drafted to having respect for myself and others. When teams inquired about me, they learned that I had a good reputation and that I kept my grades up. I’m here today because I had respect for my peers and teachers.”

Transitioning to the word integrity, Meyersohn gave the youth a different perspective.

“Just like the players up here, I had a dream of playing in the NBA,” recounted Meyersohn. “I loved basketball but I stand in front of you all today with no shame in saying that I wasn’t good enough. Yet, by having integrity, I was still able to tie my three passions into a career. I love basketball, working with youth and the community but wouldn’t be here without integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Sometimes I would come home from school and no one would be home. I could have easily went outside to hang out with friends, but instead I did my homework. I took my education seriously and because of that I graduated from high school and went on to graduate from college.”

Daniels found it hard to speak following Meyersohn.

“Matt did such a great job that I’m a little nervous now to talk to you,” the forward joked. “You all have heard a lot of great, important things this morning and my word, choices, is no different. Making good choices now are so critical to your future. When I was growing up I had a decision to either go left or right. Left involved drugs and gang interaction. I wanted more out of life. I didn’t want to end up down a negative path so I chose to make the right decisions. I focused on school and basketball. I didn’t go out late at night on weekends but instead got rest so I could get up early to work out. You might not think you’re cool by doing the right things but you are. Always remember that.”

Barros, a Mattapan native, closed the assembly with the topic of education.

“Education was extremely important in my household growing up,” remembered Barros. “From first grade all the way to eighth grade I only missed two days of school. I had straight A’s and was doing great. However, when I reached high school, my grades began to drop. That didn’t sit well with my mom and she made me quit playing basketball my freshman year until I improved my grades. That was the best thing she could have done for me. I wanted to excel in school and thanks to basketball as well, I was able to go to college for free. You can’t do anything without an education.”