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March Basketball Fun Comes to Parkville

After months of preparation and strategizing, the state tests were over. Parkville staff, students, and parents unwound on the basketball court with kids-versus-adults games in the school's version of the March NCAA Basketball Tournament. Included: A description of the basketball game.

About This Series

Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio is spending time this school year at Parkville Community School in Hartford, Connecticut, to report on the challenges an urban school faces and the strategies it employs in its quest to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act.

After sixth months of crunching data, tutoring, and practice testing, and two weeks of actual testing, staff and students at Parkville Community School were ready for some fun.

The administration of the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs) went smoothly, and even a late-winter blizzard held off until testing was done one morning. Now everyone just has to wait for the results, which likely will not be ready until the summer.

So with spring (almost) in the air, student artwork celebrating warm-weather activities, and the NCAA basketball tournaments racing toward their finales, it was time to blow off some steam at the annual student versus staff basketball games. This year, parents were invited to play on the teachers team, and 16 signed up.


Students' kites are one sign of spring at Parkville.
(Education World photo)

The morning of the games, Jones and principal Elizabeth Michaelis traveled the school hallways with a basketball, visiting classrooms and leading cheers to rev up school spirit. Jones was playing the cheerleader in blue pants, a white shirt over a yellow shirt, a yellow headband, and clutching blue and yellow pom poms. Michaelis looked like a coach, wearing blue pants and a white sweat jacket.

Physical education teacher Mr. Sequoia, with his face painted the school colors of blue and while, drew shrieks from children as he also ducked into rooms to pump up the students.

"It's a reward for the kids," Sequoia said of the game.


As classes entered the gym, music was blasting, and Jones, literacy facilitator Ms. Maple, and other teachers were shaking pom poms, using megaphones to lead students in cheers of "Go Parkville!" and bleating on noisemakers.

Assistant principal Latesha Jones roots on the players.
(Education World photo)

"That's my daddy!" one girl in the stands squealed as students, parents, and teachers warmed up on the court.

Some children wore blue leis, which they waved, and students held up signs rooting on the teams. (Students were told before the games that cheering loudly was fine -- no booing was allowed.)

Adults wore white t-shirts and the students blue, and an officially-dressed referee was on the court.

With bragging rights at stake, the teams were ready to play.


The school actually had two games; first one for the pre-kindergarten-through-fourth graders, and the second for the fifth and sixth graders. Players were rotated in and out of the game about every eight minutes in the 32-minute games.

This kept players relatively fresh, except for P.E. teachers Sequoia and Mr. Redwood, who filled out the students rosters with two extra bodies and an impressive amount of height.

Literacy facilitator Ms. Maples pumps up the students.
(Education World photo)

The first game started with a little confusion as to whose basket was whose, but after several student players were re-routed, the game took off.

With their large wingspans, Messrs. Sequoia and Redwood easily were able to block shots and intercept passes and toss the ball to students so they could shoot.

But by no means were they held scoreless -- and who can resist having some fun? When Redwood ran the court and dunked, the students roared. Sequoia also showed he could dunk with the best of them.

And since everyone should have the chance to dunk at least once, Redwood hoisted up a girl so she could slam the ball home, and balanced a boy on his shoulders so he could get a clean shot.

Michaelis was cheered when she sunk a basket, even though she was on the other side. The crowd also erupted when a small fourth grader lobbed in a three-point basket -- he was later voted the game's MVP.

Final score: students, 45, parents and teachers, 42.

The students prevailed in the second game as well, when fifth and sixth graders took the court against a mostly fresh set of teachers. The cheering was just as loud and enthusiastic. Students took turns with the pom poms, rooting on their classmates, and once again the students won, 36-33.

And they were not shy about letting the staff know it.

This instills school spirit and pride, assistant principal Latesha Jones said. And it ties in with the basketball playoffs and the real world.


Updated 3/06/2012