BRIGHTON — Dunkers, high fliers and trick dribblers of the Court Kingz basketball team challenged Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School faculty to a game Sept. 18 and shared their anti-bullying message with students while they were at it.
Principal Brian Greseth led a team of 10 teachers and aides, but while the faculty gave their all, they didn’t stand a chance against the entertainment basketball team comprised of hot shot basketball players.
“I lost my game a long time ago,” said Greseth, who played at Augsburg College in Minnesota 35 years ago.
The event was a precursor to National Bullying Prevention Month in October, which was founded by the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) in 2006 to raise awareness for bullying prevention. Greseth said the school wanted a bullying prevention program and the Court Kingz had experience working with a variety of groups.
The game started with a little trash talk. Court Kingz asked the teachers if they were scared, to which they all yelled, “No way.”
On the court, the teachers were outplayed, but that didn’t stop them from laughing their way up and down the court during the game. Students cheered for their teachers but also when a Court Kingz player dunked the ball.
Court Kingz won 57-34, but the most important outcome was that students heard the team’s anti-bullying message loud and clear.
Angelo “Mr. Viral” Sharpless, who has been featured on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and toured with the Harlem Globetrotters, spoke to students during halftime.
“If you see someone getting bullied, doing nothing isn’t the right thing at all,” Sharpless said. “If you can help that person out, he will help you one day, too, and you’ll have a friend for life.”
Inspirational talk continued as Tim Vester, of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, addressed students.
“Believe you are special because you are,” he said. “I challenge you all to look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful and smart. When you believe in yourself, you will make a difference in the lives around you.”
PECS will hold additional anti-bullying programs throughout the month. Classroom doors will be decorated with anti-bullying themes, and students will pledge to unite against bullying. They will wear orange on Unity Day, Oct. 21, to stand against bullying.
Students will cap events by joining in an end bullying simulcast presented by Stand Strong Florida on Nov. 7.
PACER’s website details that bullying has devastating effects on children, including avoiding school, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression. The group works with education-based organizations to provide schools with resources to help them respond to bullying behavior and to educate the community about their role in preventing bullying.
After the basketball game, students lined up to meet players, take photos and get autographs on anything they could, including shoes, shirts, cell phone and tablet cases, backpacks and even a math homework assignment.