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by Stephen Wilson

Picture 700 fifth-graders screaming, clapping, chanting, and stomping. What’s caused this chaos?

Several things, like visiting campus, meeting College student mentors, and watching the women’s basketball team take on a league rival. But seeing their teachers floss on the gym floor during halftime helped amplify the squeals to new heights.

All of this was part of “School Day Game Day,” a collaboration among Lafayette Athletics,  Easton Area School District (EASD), Landis Center for Community Engagement, and community sponsor Wells Fargo.

The day was action-packed. Each fifth-grader in the district came to Kirby Sports Center and was put into groups led by the baseball and men’s lacrosse teams.

Each group checked answers to geography, math, and grammar questions in their basketball-related workbook; competed in shooting, dribble, and obstacle challenges; reviewed principles in the district’s “Leader in Me” program based on Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People; learned some game-day cheers; and then watched the women’s basketball team square off against Navy.

Decibel meters trembled in the red as excitement rattled the rafters.

“What an opportunity this event provides,” says Tracy Piazza, director of teaching and learning for grades K-5. “Students from all seven schools can meet athletes at such a prestigious school and begin to consider life after high school.”

Many of the College and elementary students know each other through programs from Landis Center for Community Engagement.

“They get to see their tutors, reading partners, and lunch buddies in whole new ways,” says Piazza.

School Day Game Day is a great addition to Lafayette and EASD partnership,” says Amber Zuber, director of leadership and service programs at Landis. “It’s a chance to visit campus, reinforce key learning messages, and create a amazing atmosphere for our basketball team.”

Art Kney, director of Landis, adds, “The strength of Easton lies within community engagements.   Lafayette is proud to partner with EASD through events both large and small,  like School Day Game Day, as we continue to connect with our extended community in creative and meaningful ways.”

The team felt it, jumping out to a 18-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Cheering lessons worked as students shouted “De-fense” and “La-fay-ette!” That energy ultimately lifted the team to a 55-42 win.

After the game, players and students interacted on the court and in the stands.

But that’s not all. Each student went home with a cinch sack filled with school supplies, a fun book, an autographed basketball poster, and some information on financial literacy.

“We want these students to learn that no matter the challenges they face, they should play to win,” says Sherryta Freeman, director of athletics. “Our College athletes are engaged with many programs in the community, which is crucial to help these young people learn the attributes of success both on the court and off.”

The off-court success for this event came from the hard work of Mary Wilford-Hunt, senior associate director of corporate, foundation, and government relations. She helped bring this opportunity into view for Wells Fargo. Their generosity helped make the cinch sacks possible.

“We are excited to support such a good partnership and serve our community,” says Paul Story, vice president and district manager of the Eastern Lehigh market. “We’ve been talking with the student-athletes about budgeting, credit cards, 401Ks, and paying for college. So it’s nice to watch them carry that message on to younger students, many of whom might now consider college as an option.”

This day amounted to, what you call in basketball terms, a triple-double.

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