By Nolan Benson, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member
Give it up for yooouuuurrrrr Carver Academy attendance program sponsors, the Milwaukee Bucks! On October 16, 2017, the sun shined brightly warming the earth to a comfortable seventy-five degrees.
The location: Kern Park.
The mission: To redo the park’s basketball courts by repainting the lines and replacing the backboards and nets. Joined by three players, the Rim Rockers, two Bucks dancers, and a professional paint crew, the Carver team received an impromptu lesson on how to paint lines on a basketball court. We split into teams of two, one person being the spray painter and one person holding a piece of cardboard down against the stencil.
The Bucks team brought a DJ to keep up our energetic spirits while we helped paint the baseline of one of the courts, but painting the court was only part of the experience. Throughout the first six weeks of school, City Year AmeriCorps members and their partner teachers at Carver monitored scholar attendance and behavior. Scholars* who showed that they took pride in our Carver culture and who worked diligently were given the opportunity to participate in the event. Each class could pick five scholars. Once our group of scholars was selected, we were ready for an afternoon that would become an unforgettable picturesque day.
The scholars arrived on a bus after the courts were finished not knowing what to expect. Their faces lit up as soon as they saw the dancers, who joined our team for the power greeting, cheering them on. Bango, the Bucks’ mascot, waited at the end of the path to give high fives before the scholars stepped onto the court. The scholars had a choice to either participate in a basketball clinic from the Rim Rockers or dance with the Bucks dancers. The endless smiles on the scholars’ faces as they weaved in and out of the cones and jumped between the ropes spun by the dancers marked the pinnacle of an extraordinary day. Not only did we have one of the most beautiful days of the year weather-wise, but also we had an opportunity to give some of our scholars a lifelong memory. One 7th grade scholar loves to draw and after getting an opportunity to help spray paint a stenciled image on the court said, “Look Mr. Nolan, I’m a professional artist!” To which I replied, “You are on your way there!”
To cap off this wonderful day, the Rim Rockers put on an exclusive highflying show for everyone. Standing courtside among a sea of awestruck students as a basketball flew from hand to hand between flips and tricks lifted not only our scholar’s spirits, but also my own. I bonded with the five scholars that my partner teacher and I sent on the trip and spoke to one of them after the event. The 5th grade scholar said with wide eyes, “This was really cool, I can’t wait to tell my mom!” I couldn’t wait to tell my mom either! I look forward to this fruitful partnership to see how many more smiling scholars will have memories to last a lifetime through more events like this one. It was a great day at the park with the Milwaukee Bucks.
* As part of school culture, students as Carver Academy are called scholars.