By Ashley Earle
September 14, 2012
DORCHESTER, Mass. – The Boston Celtics on Friday partnered with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and City Year for the fifth consecutive year to host a large-scale volunteer initiative at a Boston Public School.
Deemed a ‘turnaround school’ by the state of Massachusetts, Holland Elementary has worked hard to not only improve their test scores, but also to make sure that its students have a warm and welcoming environment around them. After all, students should have the same access to education no matter their circumstances.
Dionte Christmas, Kris Joseph and Jeff Green taught students at a basketball clinic while the outside of the school was beautified.
With the school building nicely painted with rich, bright colors, 200 staff members from both the Celtics and Harvard Pilgrim continued to beautify the exterior. Projects included painting a large wall mural that spanned the length of the school, landscaping, building flower beds, and refurbishing the playground space. Additionally, members of the Celtics dancers held dance clinics for second- and third-graders during the morning and Celtics players Jeff Green, Kris Joseph and Dionte Christmas held basketball clinics in the afternoon for the fourth- and fifth- graders.
Before the day began, however, the entire school, along with the volunteers, filed into the gym for an opening ceremony. Representatives from all three organizations spoke on the importance of education and making sure students the students are proud of their school. To top it off, the students were in for a big surprise when Lucky appeared and did a dunk show. The bleachers were rocking with applause, as kids couldn’t contain their excitement while Lucky performed dunk after dunk. Cheers became even louder during Lucky’s final dunk as he jumped over the school’s principal.
Following the ceremony, the volunteers got to work as the dancers prepared for the clinics. During the four clinics, students learned the importance of stretching before working out, danced in a soul train line and had an opportunity to ask the dancers questions at the conclusion. Students were amazed to learn that dancers started their craft at an early age and studied various forms of dance such as jazz, ballet and hip-hop.
As the afternoon rolled around, the Celtics players and members of the coaching staff hosted basketball clinics for students. As each group filed in, they were introduced to their guests and heard a few words from each player.
Having recently graduated from Georgetown University, Green told the youth that education is essential in life.
“Education was very important in my household,” said Green. “In order to have opportunities in life, whether you want to be a basketball player, doctor, lawyer or anything else, you need to make sure you complete your education. In a couple of minutes we are going to do some basketball drills but make sure when you’re in the classroom, you’re drilling yourself and going through the motions of doing what you’re supposed to. You’ll be successful in life if you do.”
Joseph then spoke to the students about achieving their dreams.
“Just like Jeff (Green) touched on, education is vital,” said Joseph. “Without education, you can’t do anything. I was born in Montreal, Canada, and always dreamed of playing in the NBA. I’m here to tell you that no matter where you come from, if you work hard and never give up, your dreams can be achieved.”
With a significant amount of students having been born in a different country and now not only learning how to read and write but also learning a new language, Christmas was able to relate to them.
“I played basketball overseas for years and had to live in a new country, learning their customs just like some of you in here today,” he told the students. “It wasn’t always easy, but I’m so glad I had that experience. To touch on what Jeff and Kris (Joseph) said, take your education seriously. It will open up so many doors for you in the future and set a goal and work to achieve it. Anything is possible if you work hard enough.”
After the players addressed each group of students, the clinics began with students working on their ball handling, passing, shooting and defensive skills. At the close of each clinic, the group huddled together and broke on the word “Ubuntu,” just like the Celtics do.
By the end of the day, students had a chance to learn from the Celtics dancers and players and also received a beautiful, updated exterior that is sure to bring a smile to their faces every time they arrive at the Holland School.