Grover Cleveland Middle School students who demonstrated a commitment to community service met Senator Edward Kennedy at Capitol and tour Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

Senator Edward Kennedy meets with students at the Capitol Building.
BOSTON (June 24, 2003) - A special group of Boston students traveled to Baltimore/Washington, D.C. courtesy of Southwest Airlines today to meet United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy and tour the sites of our Nation's capitol accompanied by Celtics guard Tony Delk and Celtics Legend Cedric Maxwell. The 25 eighth-graders from the Grover Cleveland Middle School in Dorchester won the trip by winning first place in the "Assists" community service contest hosted by Southwest Airlines and the Celtics.

The students flew out of T.F. Green Airport on Southwest Airlines early this morning. When they arrived in the Washington, D.C. area, they toured the National Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The highpoint of the trip occurred after lunch, when the students met United States Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) on the Senate steps of the Capitol Building. The trip also included visits toseveral monuments and a driving tour of the city.

"The experience of 9/11 has reawakened a civic spirit among Americans who want to put their ideals into action -- to give back to their country and their communities. An active citizenry makes America stronger," Senator Kennedy said. " These students represent the best of that spirit, and I' m so happy that as a result of their hard work and dedication to their community they were able to come to Washington and see our government in action. I commend the Boston Celtics for their leadership in encouraging these kids to give back to give back to their communities."

"It was an incredible day. For many of the students it was their first flight and for most, it was their first trip to the
Students take in the sights at the National Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Washington, D.C. area," said Delk. "It was great to share this experience with them and reward their good deeds with this special trip."

The Assists program is designed to help young people develop an understanding of critical issues facing society, and to help them recognize their ability to initiate real change. Through the Assists 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.

In the winning project, Cleveland Middle School students participated in four different projects consisting of a canned food drive, planting a flower and vegetable garden at a local shelter, a coat drive, and reading to children with disabilities while also teaching them to dance for a spring talent show.

"As Southwest Airlines is determined to reach out to the community, the Assists Program provides the opportunity to encourage and reward students for their outstanding community work efforts. Not only are the students learning to give back to their community, they are learning teamwork and that their efforts do make a difference," said Ronda Ivy, Southwest Airlines Area Marketing Manager for Northern New England.

The second place winners from the Washington Irving Middle School received a pizza party at their school hosted by Celtics Forward Walter McCarty.
Tony Delk and Cedric Maxwell pose with students at BWI Airport.
The William Barton Rogers, Woodrow Wilson and Sarah Greenwood Middle Schools will be rewarded as third place winners with a Celtics basketball signed by Walter McCarty 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.

"We are thrilled to partner with Southwest Airlines in the Assists Community Service program to reward these outstanding students who have consistently demonstrated extraordinary dedication to their community," said Boston Celtics Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales John Brody. "For many of these students this program will provide them with their first opportunity to see our nation's capital culminating in a personal tour from Senator Kennedy, who personifies the very meaning of public service. The Celtics thank Southwest Airlines for making this program possible."

Among this year's Assists judges were Celtics Legend JoJo White, Celtics player Walter McCarty, Adam Webster from Senator Edward Kennedy's office, Butch Stearns from FOX 25 News, Kip Lewis from WHDH-TV Channel 7, Debbie Wrobleski from WWZN, Christine Hill from the Boston Public Schools and Ronda Ivy from Southwest Airlines.