The sounds of dribbling basketballs filled the Love Elementary School gymnasium on a recent afternoon with Love students and members of the Jamestown High School JV Girls Basketball team working on drills. The JHS students were visiting the After School Amigos (ASA) Program to help mentor the younger students. The girls’ basketball team has volunteered in the program for three years, once a week. The team spends 20 minutes doing basketball drills and 45 minutes completing homework and reading with students.
“I wanted the ASA students to have positive role models and friends to help them be successful in school, and in life in general,” said Pat Cunningham, Love Elementary School and ASA teacher, and also JV Girls Basketball Coach. “All members of the team enjoy working with, and want to share their knowledge, skills, and experiences to help these young students. They are very committed and are building a very positive friendship that the ASA students will remember for a long time.”
Before Mr. Cunningham could even bring up working at the program this year, the team decided as a group that they wanted to continue to do something as a team to help the students at Love School, and as a bonding activity to help them as a basketball team.
“It is good for us to be a mentor for the younger students, someone they can look up to,” said JHS Sophomore Kelly Emerson. “We not only teach them basketball skills but also help with homework. I really like visiting Love School. The students are so excited to see us each week and it just makes you feel really good.”
The students love the connection too.
“It is really fun practicing the basketball drills and maybe I can be a basketball player when I get to the high school,” said Love third grader Leanette Arizmendi. “Also, they help us with our homework so we don’t have to do it when we go home.”
The ASA Club is a collaborative family literacy program made possible though a unique partnership between Jamestown Community Learning Council and Jamestown Public Schools assisted by JCLC employees Michele Hoden and Debbie Yahn. The focus of the group is to increase literacy skills in kindergarten through fourth grade students of Spanish speaking families, including reading, writing and speaking English. The group encourages parental involvement by hosting family nights once a month including field trips to the James Prendergast Library, swimming at the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, family dinners and, this month, attending the JHS JV Girls Basketball game.
“The ASA students ask me everyday if the basketball girls are coming over,” said Mr. Cunningham. “The ASA students are opening up and feeling more confident in their work because they have someone who is assisting, supporting and caring about them. The girls are doing a wonderful job, like big sisters, being very caring and patient. They have connected with these younger students and help them understand the importance of always doing your best in school, on the basketball court, and also just being a good person.”
JHS JV Girls Basketball team members are: Katelyn Bennett, Morgan Brightman, Janelly Candelario, Kelly Emerson, Taylor Evan, Bailey Indelicato, Havalynn Saunders, Jennah Starkweather, Hannah Frederick, Keira Johnson and Lauren Garvey.