Celtics' Stay in School Program Honors Students

BOSTON – The 22nd year of the Boston Celtics’ Stay in School program, presented by Arbella Insurance, came to a culmination Thursday morning when more than 1,000 middle school youth were honored at Northeastern University’s Matthews Arena.

As the youth entered the arena, they were greeted by Celtics dancers and given a T-shirt, along with a raffle ticket. Once everyone was seated, Arbella Insurance Senior Vice President Gayle O'Connell opened the ceremony with welcoming remarks.

“It is such an honor to be here today and we are proud of your effort in the classroom,” said O’Connell. “We will be recognizing winners for the art and writing contest, a most improved student from every school, and those who have had an incredible perfect attendance during their middle school careers!”

Following the welcome, youth turned their attention to the video screen to watch a 2012-13 Stay in School recap video. The piece featured footage of rookie Jared Sullinger and Legends Dana Barros and Walter McCarty speaking about P.R.I.D.E. (perseverance, respect, integrity, decisions and education) at various schools throughout the year.

After viewing the recap, the youth were in for a treat as Sullinger, Barros and McCarty joined Celtics President Rich Gotham, former Boston Public Schools superintendant Dr. Carol Johnson, Executive Director of Sport in Society Dan Lebowitz and award-winning rapper Lyrical on stage for a panel. The group discussed education and choosing to make the right decisions.

Sullinger explained to the audience that personal choices not only affect their future, but others as well.

“I wasn’t the best student in middle school and early on in high school,” recounted the rookie. “I thought that being a good basketball player was all that I needed to succeed but I was wrong. There would be no basketball if I didn’t start taking my education seriously and I learned that the hard way during my sophomore year in high school. Because my grades were so poor, I wasn’t eligible to play in our state tournament and our team lost that game. My decisions not only affected me but my teammates as well. From that day forward, I knew education was important and I steadily improved my GPA. I never wanted to let anyone down again.”

As the powerful discussion came to an end, students were recognized for various awards from a writing contest and art contest, as well as most improved pupil and perfect attendance for three years. Additionally, one lucky teacher won two tickets to a Celtics game next season while two students won Celtics gifts from the raffle.

The event was a great way to honor students for their dedication and commitment to education. The youth closed out their school year by listening intently to the panel discussion and further remarks from Lyrical.

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