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Men's Basketball Involved in Pride's Literacy Awards Program

-- Springfield College men's basketball team members are involved with a comprehensive program designed to promote literacy in grades 1 through 3 at various elementary schools throughout the local area. The program is called the Springfield College Pride's Literacy Awards Program.

Upon successful completion of the program, each involved school would net $300 via grants from the City of Springfield Community Development, aimed to enhance the school's libraries.

Under the plan, pairs of Springfield College men's basketball student-athletes will visit as many as four nearby elementary schools on a day agreed upon by the elementary school's principals and Springfield College Head Coach Charlie Brock. The athletes visit classes of first through third graders while in the school. The script calls for each pair of student-athletes to discuss their lives as student-athletes, as well as the importance of reading and literacy. They then read a selected book and do an activity suggested by the teacher of that class. The student-athletes then close by explaining the "Literacy Awards Program," and the incremental awards available through the program. Each pair of student athletes then change classrooms and repeat the same routine.

It is suggested that each student read anywhere between five and 10 books. Each teacher in each class is supplied with a literacy awards sheet for each student, and the teacher monitors the progress of each student. After a student reads five books, he/she receives a Springfield College pencil. After readng 10 books, that student receives a Springfield College T-shirt. It is estimated that 150 students are touched by the Springfield College Pride program at each school.

This program was instituted at the 1997 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Convention, during a meeting of the NABC's Committee on Academics. The idea of a "NABC Reading Week" was created, stemming from the desire by the committee to promote the importance of reading to elementary school children. A leading member of that committee was Charlie Brock, now a member of the NABC's Board of Directors. Other members of that committee included Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, and current ESPN basketball broadcaster Fran Fraschilla.

At a recent outing, many members of the Springfield College men's basketball team visited the nearby Fisher DeBerry Elementary School on Union Street in Springfield. Members of the team who read to school children that day included sophomores Robbie Burke (Cheshire, Mass.) and Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H) and freshmen Josh Altman (Rockport, Mass.), Nick Sienkiewicz (Cranston, R.I.), Nick Toto (Milford, Conn.), and Justin Tienhaara (Holden, Mass.).

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