Boston Middle School Students Earn Field Trip to Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Celtics and Southwest Airlines

Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students who won ASSISTS community service contest meet with Senator Edward M. Kennedy and tour sites in nation's capital

WASHINGTON D.C. (June 21, 2007) -- A group of more than 30 students from the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Allston enjoyed a special field trip to Baltimore/Washington, D.C. today, courtesy of Southwest Airlines. The students met U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy and toured the sites of the nation's capital with Celtics guards Delonte West and Tony Allen. The students earned the trip by winning the ASSISTS community service contest sponsored by Southwest Airlines and the Celtics.

The students flew on Southwest Airlines out of T.F. Green Airport in Providence this morning and returned in the evening. The highlight of their day in the nation's capital was when they met Senator Kennedy at the Capitol Building. They also toured the National Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, took a driving tour of the city and visited Gallaudet University, the world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students.

"The Celtics and Southwest Airlines deserve great credit for their inspiring partnership with Boston's Middle Schools," Senator Kennedy said. "It's very moving to see the way these students respond each year by creating worthwhile projects that make a difference for their communities."

"It is great to see all these students rewarded for the hard work they put into improving their community," West said. "It was great to tour Washington, D.C. and meet Senator Kennedy with these amazing students. They worked hard to earn this trip and I was glad to share this unforgettable experience with them."

The ASSISTS community service program, which is in its eighth year, is designed to help young people develop an understanding of critical issues society faces, and to help them recognize their ability to initiate real change. Through the program, the Celtics and Southwest Airlines invited teams of students from all 27 Boston Public Middle Schools to create and implement community service projects that would meet the needs of a local community and make a positive impact on its members. The program was designed to inspire eighth-grade students to improve their schools and neighborhoods.

For their winning project, the students of Horace Mann School created a seven-tiered community service project based on improving deaf awareness and beautifying their school. Students polled their teachers for areas that needed improvement in the school. The students created projects consisting of in-classroom assistance for younger students, acting as role models for their peers, and cleaning of the school's play area.

"The ASSISTS program provides a wonderful opportunity to encourage students to give back to their community," Southwest Airlines Area Marketing Manager Michele Miller said. "Along with learning the value of giving back, these students are learning teamwork and that their efforts do make a difference."

The second-place team from The Harbor School of Roxbury was rewarded with a pizza party hosted by Delonte West at their school. Each student on the third place team from The Sarah Greenwood School of Dorchester received a Celtics basketball autographed by a member of the Boston Celtics and Celtics legend JoJo White.

Judging was based on the students' ability to (1) create an imaginative unique project; (2) meet the deadline for submitting entries; (3) make a positive impact and meet a real community need; and (4) have fun by helping others.

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