“Thank you for joining us for this special assembly,” our athletic director, Mr. Burtrum, called into the microphone.
Once again, I wondered why adults pretended like we had a choice where to go and not go while at the school. When the adults say there’s a mandatory assembly, we shuffle into the gym. When an adult summons us to the guidance counselor’s office, we sit down and let them lecture us.
Mr. Burtrum stood at center court with me at his side, and Matt and Ariane on the other.
“I know you all met individually with your teams and coaches, so I won’t go over all the details again.” Although the athletes in the gym already knew about the project, the other kids in the school had yet to hear the full details.
“We have the opportunity to be a part of a unique service project that is unlike anything we’ve done before. This will be a collaborative project between all athletes at the high school and will be a huge undertaking. But it’s for a good cause.”
The famous last words of every boring fundraiser. I sensed the murmurs rolling through the bleachers and feared we were losing the crowd. Mr. Burtrum held up his hands to calm everyone down, then continued.
“When Ariane, our foreign exchange student from the Ivory Coast, joined the basketball team, she was surprised by the amount of sporting equipment we have.” Mr. Burtrum smiled at Ariane then turned toward me. “It occurred to Trina that we, and all schools in Michigan, probably most of the United States, have gently used sporting equipment sitting around in closets not being used. We are going to gather as much as we can, box it up, and ship it to the schools in Abidjan. And we’re going to have a holiday ball to raise money for the shipping costs.”
There was an exited chatter among the crowd of kids then Mr. Burtrum continued.
“We’ll be pairing up athletes from every sport in the school, contacting other schools, driving to the other schools and picking up donations, and all of it will count toward community service. It will look great on your college applications.”
That wasn’t nearly as exciting but still an incentive.
“Trina Wynter and Matt Bailey have the guy’s names in a hat, and the ladies will be drawing names. So, I need all the female athletes to join me on the gym floor in a line.”
There was organized chaos as people shuffled around each other to get out of the bleachers and down to the gym floor.
Matt held the big hat of guys names on his lap and I wheeled him forward as each girl read the name from the slip of paper, speaking into the microphone. Some names garnered excitement as friends, or even potential love interests were paired together. Some raised eyebrows or even groans. But no one insisted they change. They were all getting into the spirit of the project.
After the assembly I made a bee line for the art and drama departments to enlist their help with the holiday ball, especially decorations. This was going to be the best service project and fundraiser the school has ever known.