Celtics Host Stay in School Event at BTU Pilot K-8
Jamaica Plain, MA – The Boston Celtics’ Stay in School program, in partnership with Arbella Insurance, has successfully encouraged youth to attend school every day and make education a priority for more than two decades.
Wednesday morning, students from BTU Pilot K-8 School were in for a treat when Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger, Legend Dana Barros and recently retired Celtic Keyon Dooling came to their school for an assembly.
The Celtics VIP’s were greeted in the hallway by BTU third-graders, setting the tone for the school’s excitement of their visit. Before the school assembly began, teachers previously selected 20 students across middle school grades who best exemplified effort and hard work toward their education. The Celtics met these diligent students and opened the floor for any questions they may have had about education, basketball or their lives.
Before the students could think of questions, Dooling addressed the group by saying, “I remember being in middle school and the decisions I made then affected who and what I am doing today. This time in your life is important and use it to think and develop your goals because your future depends on your preparation right now.”
One student kicked off by asking a great question: “How do you focus on what you do?”
Barros responded, “It is important to do something you love in order to focus. Basketball is something we all love and enjoy doing. That’s why it is important to figure out what direction you want to move toward, because when you find something you love and are passionate about, focusing is simple.”
Another middle school student enthusiastically raised her hand hoping to be called on. Sullinger addressed her and called on her.
“What path did you take to be successful,” the eighth-grader asked.
Sullinger responded, “First, it’s important to pick a path that is best for you. I knew I wanted to play basketball and in order to be successful I had to hang around with friends who didn’t get into trouble. I also had to make education a priority. When I was in college, having only gone two years, I still made sure my grades didn’t slip because I knew after my basketball career I was going to go back and get my degree. Finally, it is important to find that drive and passion for something you love. When you do something you love your instincts take over.”
Upon asking questions, the students guided the Celtics players to the auditorium where all the BTU Pilot students were patiently waiting for the beginning of the assembly. As the Celtics walked in to the auditorium, the crowd of students erupted as they welcomed the stars to their school.
“Coach” Willie Maye played the role of emcee, introducing each Celtics VIP and keeping the audience’s spirits high. Using the acronym P.R.I.D.E. (perseverance, respect, integrity, decisions, education) Sullinger, Dooling, Barros and Community Relations Director Matt Meyersohn chose a letter and spoke about how it relates to them and also gave words of advice.
Sullinger began by educating the audience about the importance of perseverance.
Reminding them of his current season-ending back injury, Sullinger said, “Even though I’m not on the court now, I’m taking the right steps to get myself back into shape. A lot of people have told me I may not be the same when I return and I tell them you may be right because I’m going persevere to be even better. Each day I work past the negativity and try to use that as motivation.”
Dooling urged the crowd to have respect not only for others but also for themselves. Dooling, who recently started his own community foundation, the Respect Foundation, encouraged students to respect everyone who holds a spot in their lives whether it be family, teachers, friends, or fellow classmates.
Dooling explained, “Giving respect earns you respect, which helps you succeed in any path you choose to travel.”
Meyersohn spoke to the audience about integrity and how doing the right thing is always important.
Meyersohn said, “When I think of integrity I think of doing something good even when no one is watching you.”
He also spoke on how he never achieved his childhood dream of becoming a professional basketball player. Instead, through integrity and hard work, Meyersohn earned his education which opened the door for him to reach the next-best opportunity as the Boston Celtics Community Relations Director.
Next, Barros spoke about important decisions he made throughout his life and how every decision shaped who he is today.
“When I was in middle school I made the decision to stay away from negative crowds and instead use my time to go to the park and shoot for hours each day. No one ever told me to make that decision but instead I told myself and from that decision alone I achieved my childhood dream to become a pro basketball player,” recounted Barros.
Wrapping up the acronym P.R.I.D.E., Dooling addressed the youth and spoke about the importance of education. Using his own personal story, he explained how education in his life helped him achieve his childhood dream.
“When I was in high school I had a lot of scouts looking at me play basketball and it was always said that I was college material,” he said. “However, one of my teachers, Ms. Burke, agreed that I was college material but my grades didn’t reflect that. With the help of Ms. Burke my GPA rose from a sub-1.8 to a 3.2! Working hard to improve my education was the primary reason I was able to go to the University of Missouri to play basketball, then ultimately play the NBA.”
The youth absorbed all of the information with one student saying, “Hearing their stories definitely makes me more aware of how to carry myself. I want to thank them for allowing me to see the big picture.”