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A+ assembly: Spirited basketball game with Harlem Rockets to celebrate end of GHS midterms a slam dunk

  • Greenfield High School Principal Karin Patenaude addresses the all-school assembly, before welcoming in the Harlem Rockets on Friday. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • The Harlem Rockets’ Justin Tompkins at Greenfield High School for an all-school assembly. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Greenfield High School students watch the Harlem Rockets during an all-school assembly to celebrate the end of midterms. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Greenfield High School students watch the Harlem Rockets during an all-school assembly to celebrate the end of midterms. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • The Harlem Rockets’ “The Wizard” played at Greenfield High School for an all-school assembly. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon



Recorder Staff
Friday, January 26, 2018

GREENFIELD — As the Harlem Rockets began to shoot around the gym, the high school students quickly whipped out of their cell phones.

“Hey, can you dunk?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Can you do it for Snapchat?”

It was a whimsical moment after a tense time in the school — midterm season was finally over.

To celebrate the end of the testing this semester, Greenfield High School Principal Karin Patenaude brought in the Harlem Rockets — “Showtime Basketball,” their business card reads — to entertain the students with laughter and moments of educational wisdom.

“We wanted to provide them with a fun assembly to celebrate their academics after midterms,” Patenaude said.

For the next hour, students were treated to a basketball game between the Harlem Rockets and a Greenfield High School team made up of current players, teachers, alumni and School Committee Vice Chairman Cameron Ward.

It was a show on and off the court, too. While the game waged on, students in the crowd rocked out to the latest tunes, from Migos to rapper D.R.A.M., to dance hits like “Wobble Baby” and “Do It Like Me.”

Students in the crowd — like Daniel Vega, Greenfield football wideout and Turkey Day hero — could be seen dancing in their seats. Later on, Vega was asked to come up for a special challenge by the Rockets. They asked him to match a level of trick dribbles and shots, eventually winning a T-shirt, while the whole school watched.

“It was amazing. I felt like an NBA player,” Vega said afterward. “One of the best experiences of my life.”

Students explained it as a unique experience at the school. Patenaude and Athletic Director Mike Kuchieski said it was definitely a first for them.

“It’s something different than we’ve ever done at the school,” Kuchieski said. “It was nice for the administration to mix it up a bit.”

Current Greenfield basketball players, seniors Jake Suhl and Lizzy Howland, got to play ball against the Rockets.

“We saw the whole school come together,” said Howland, who, to the amazement of the crowd, got dunked on in true Sportscenter fashion. “It wasn’t just appealing to one part but to everybody.”

While the entertainment was the key part of it, the Rockets emphasized a different theme.

“I always try to tell the young kids, ‘Yeah, basketball is cool, but there are more ways (to be cool) than basketball and being an entertainer,’” Claude Blue said. “Education will take you a long way.”

All of the players on the team —they travel the world and left from New York City at 7 a.m. Friday to come to Greenfield —have graduated from college and preach good grades.

Still, between smiles from the event, Howland noted that point didn’t fall on deaf ears: “We’re students before athletes. Our coaches always stress that.”