Group photo of elementary students, teacher, four high school boys, standing and kneeling

Barringer Road teacher Emily Jory learned that some of the students in her class were fascinated by the CVA boys basketball team. The team was in the middle of a great season, racking up win after win. She also learned that some of those students would not have the chance to watch the team play in person.

She decided that if the students could not get to the team, she would bring the team to the students. With the help of Sports Coordinator Garrett Olds, she arranged for the starters to visit.

So on one Thursday in March, Jaylon O'Neal, Deacon Judd, CJ Judd, and Ray Watson stopped into the classroom.

classroom, 3 older students speaking with younger children

Mrs. Jory's class was well-prepared. Things started with a question and answer session. Each student had written out questions for the players. The third graders wanted to know about the players, how they prepare, about basketball in general, etc. One student even asked if the players were nervous before a game. (The obvious answer was "yes.")

classroom, girl shooting mini basketball, desks, bulletin board

Next was a game of "knockout" with everyone lining up single-file in front of a homemade mini-basketball hoop.

In knockout, the first person shoots. If he/she makes the shot, the shooter moves to the back of the line. If it's a miss, the shooter chases down the ball and tries to make a basket before the second person can sink a shot. If the second person makes a basket before the first, the first person is eliminated. The last person remaining is the winner.

The rules were soon forgotten and the room became filled with students chasing balls, shooting baskets, and laughing. There was no winner, but everyone had a great time.

3 young students watching older student reading index card, classroom, bulletin board

Mrs. Jory's next activity placed the high schoolers in the role of teacher. They each received index cards with one word written on each card. The twist was that the words could be real  or made-up. The players helped the youngsters sound out each word then decide if that word was real.

boy jumping, placing sticky not on cabinet

Because jumping is such an important part of basketball, the next activity tested the third graders leaping ability. Each student jumped up and stuck a sticky note as high as they could on a tall cabinet.

classroom, two older students sitting at tiny table with three young students

Finally, everyone took a well deserved rest with a break of cookies and doughnuts.

The visit touched on every part of learning. The third graders wrote, asked questions, read, exercised, and simply socialized. The day was not only for the young students. The high school players stepped up as role models and teachers, sharing a part of their lives with children.

"This is the kind of activity that changes people's lives," said Superintendent Jeremy Rich.

"Mrs. Jory gave her students a chance to interact with high school athletes, hopefully giving the young ones something to reach for. At the same time, those basketball players learned about power they have to influence the next generation, whether on the court or in the classroom. This day represents our Thunder at their best."