July 16, 2008
By Leah Thomas –
The Georgia Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams stole the show at KIPP WAYS Academy, located in West Atlanta, on Friday. KIPP WAYS is modeled after the highly successful KIPP (knowledge is power program) schools currently operate throughout the country. It is a free college preparatory charter school that serves the children of West Atlanta.
The school’s mission is to prepare students for top quality high schools, colleges, and the competitive world beyond by instilling in each student a commitment to scholarship, teamwork, integrity and other successful characteristics.
Rising KIPP WAYS 5th graders reported to the school Friday morning to undergo some reading placement testing. Approximately 125 kids were present and were divided into two groups. While the first group stayed inside to take the tests, the Georgia Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams took the other half of the students out to learn some basketball skills. They did a fantastic job of leading the kids through warm-up stretches, demonstrating some basic dribbling and ball-handling skills, and then dividing them into teams for basketball relay races. The kids had a blast, and I’m pretty sure the Georgia Tech student-athletes had just as much fun. After about an hour, the KIPP WAYS kids switched places so the test-taking group got to come out and play with the Tech athletes, and the other kids got to take the reading placement tests.
Part way through the morning, after an early morning weight workout, 10 football players showed up to KIPP WAYS to add to the fun. They helped with the football clinic that was also going on. The school yard was full of Georgia Tech student-athletes taking time out of their Friday to make an impression on these young college-bound kids.
We distributed mini-basketballs signed by our players, tee-shirts, and autographed football posters. While the kids were eating lunch, D’Andre Bell of men’s basketball took the stage to answer any questions the kids wanted to ask. He talked about how hard work and discipline are key ingredients to becoming both a successful student and athlete.
I was impressed once again by the commitment of our student-athletes to come out and represent Georgia Tech so honorably. As we were about to leave, an administrator from the school thanked all of our student-athletes and told them that they had never before had so many athletes come to their school to help with anything. They were grateful for the experience and gave the GT student-athletes their own version of “thank you!”……they give “what, what’s!?” instead, and chanted this 5 times in a row (which apparently is a lot for any group to earn in one visit)!
Our student-athletes made a few more Yellow Jacket fans in West Atlanta.