Paul Pierce sits with John F. Ryan sixth grader Amanda Fleming of Tewksbury, MA and her younger sister Sandra as he answers questions from Amanda's classmates.
Amanda Fleming won the grand prize of having Pierce take her to school in a stretch limousine by filling out an entry form at a local Market Basket. On Wednesday morning, she waited outside her home with her mother, father, and two sisters for her ride to show up, with noticeable excitement and her mother and father having to remind her to take deep breaths.
When Pierce arrived, he met Amanda, her parents, older sister Nicole, younger sister Sandra and the dozens of neighbors who had gathered in the Fleming's front yard to meet the Celtics captain. He signed autographs and posed for photos before having Amanda (and reminding her to grab her backpack) and her family climb into the limo for the ride to John F. Ryan Elementary School.
Pierce and Amanda were greeted at the school by Principal Kevin McArdle and hundreds of eager students who had abandoned their lessons and pressed their noses against the windows, eager for a look at their hometown hero. After signing in at the office, Pierce proceeded to walk with Amanda to her homeroom, ducking into classrooms to greet students - much to the delight of the children and teachers alike. The school was prepared for Pierce's arrival, with signs and banners hanging in hallways and classrooms, and students and faculty donning Celtics jerseys and t-shirts.
"It looks like Paul Pierce day," Pierce said in amazement, as he walked to Amanda's homeroom.
In homeroom, Pierce told students of Mr. Shirkoff's class that success requires hard work, dedication and sacrifice. He also reminded students to do their homework and the importance of getting good grades. He said his mother and two older brothers have been his inspiration, and admitted that he wears the number 34 because it was the only jersey that could fit him in high school.
Next, Amanda and Pierce visited the gymnasium where they met with more than 100 students. With Amanda and her younger sister Sandra by his side, Pierce answered questions about his shoe size (size 15), his favorite sport to play other than basketball (tennis) and his favorite cartoons growing up (Heathcliff, Scooby Doo, Spiderman and G.I. Joe). He also told the students that in his spare time he enjoys reading instead of watching television and that he began playing basketball in the sixth grade because his friends didn't want to play baseball and football with him.
When it was time to return to class, the students lined up to shake Pierce's hand and thank him for coming to visit their school. Amanda and her family walked Pierce back to the limo, where he reminded her to work hard and continue to study. In fact, as they said good-bye, Pierce gave Amanda a stern warning:
"You better go to class now," he told her.