Hopewell teachers to face off against Harlem Wizards to raise funds for student courses

Tickets for Oct. 8th exhibition basketball game on sale now.
Next Saturday Hopewell teachers and students will take on a professional basketball team: the Harlem Wizards.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 8:57 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Next Saturday, Hopewell teachers will trade in their professional attire for a jersey and basketball shorts as they plan to leave it all out on the basketball court in an exhibition game between the New Jersey-based Harlem Wizards.

The exhibition match is an effort between the school division and the professional basketball team to raise money for the school division’s Balanced Calendar Curriculum.

“You give them something you can’t put a price tag on, pure genuine happiness,” said Wizard player King Arthur Lewis Jr.

“We heard you guys got some ballers, so we’re a little timid, but it’s going to be really fun and a great showing,” said Robert ‘Smooth’ Young.

Lewis and Young visited the school division earlier in the semester to inspire students as they embarked on the school year. During that visit, the school division and the Wizards brainstormed a fundraising event that could give back to the students and the community.

“This is not your ordinary fundraiser. We’re creating memories,” said Young. “You get a chance to see that people who play professional sports are just like you. You get to touch them and be involved with them, and that’s what makes this game special.”

It’s been little more than a year and a half since Hopewell schools went completely year-round, which aimed to give students a more consistent curriculum with fewer long gaps between learning. The division also provides students with extra learning opportunities known as intersession courses to supplement and expound upon what they would learn in the classroom.

The Director of the Balanced Calender and School Curriculum, Byron Davis, says the most significant challenge with the learning method is finding new ways to keep students interested in learning while maintaining funding.

“Three times a year, we have two-week periods called intersessions where students can take a break or be with us for more instructional learning opportunities,” said Davis. “Some of the really amazing things that teachers want to do with their kids cost money.”

Davis says the division received $3 million in state funds to be spent over the next five years to make those extra learning opportunities possible. Still, they need additional funds to maintain them.

“We’re just trying got raise awareness within our own community about intersession courses and the opportunities for them because it’s something we want parents and students to participate in, and it’s entirely free for them,” Davis said.

That’s why Davis says the response to the exhibition match on Oct. 8th is so crucial. Since ticket sales went live, the school division says it hasn’t been selling tickets as fast as it would like to. The game’s success will determine how much additional support the intercession programs receive.

“The proceeds of this game will go straight back into these intersession courses,” Davis said.

An entire team of teachers and some students will be poised to face off against the Harlem Wizards.

“We have built a stellar team that we call the Hopewell “Swish-Kabobs,” and as great as we are, I know that there is some stiff competition,” Davis said.

“You get to see your teachers become big kids again,” Lewis said. “l Who doesn’t want to see teachers, staff, and people in the community have fun dance score baskets and be in a good positive space.”

But while the exhibition is mostly just fun and games, its success will be the biggest win for the students.

“This is just a great opportunity to help somebody. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing to help others,” said Lewis. " So if you live in that community and you don’t like the way it is, or its lack of resources, then buying a ticket, buying a souvenir, coming to buy some cotton candy or some popcorn will help the community that you live in.”

Doors will open for the game on Saturday, Oct. 8th, at 2 p.m. at the newly refurbished Hopewell High School gym. The exhibition is slated to begin at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now. To purchase a ticket, click HERE.

“So if you’re really true about helping somebody come out to the game,” Lewis said. “It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than me. It’s about the whole collective.”