Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reading Week a slam dunk at Rhodes

May 13, 2010
Cranston Herald
All text and photos by Jennifer Cowart

TEAM CAPTAINS: Coaches Jackie Cromer and Mel Moore read aloud to the students at Rhodes Elementary School during their One on One Basketball presentation.

Edward S. Rhodes Elementary School celebrated their Reading Week success recently, with an assembly presented by two players from One on One Basketball, an organization that usually teaches basketball to kids.

This time they came to Rhodes with a special message to pass along.

“I didn’t get this good at basketball without reading,” said instructor Jackie Cromer, known to the students simply as “Coach Jackie.”

Principal Kenneth Blackman explained to the students that the players were there as a reward for the students’ dedication to reading. Graphs line the hallways of Rhodes, to demonstrate the number of minutes each classroom read.

“We’ve done lots of reading this week for our Slam Dunk a Good Book theme,” he said. “We did a little reading, now we’ll do a little basketball.”

The students paid close attention as Cromer and Rhode Island Hawks coach Ramel Moore, known as “Mel,” came to center stage with basketballs in hand, looking ready to play.

“Reading gives you knowledge,” Moore said. “If you want to learn about something, you need to read about it.”

Moore and Cromer alternated speaking to the students about their early love of reading and how it influenced their basketball careers later on.

“The first book I ever read was a children’s story book,” Moore told the students, giving his basketball an occasional bounce as he spoke. “I used to love to read to my brother. We would imagine we were in the stories.”

Cromer was more of a mystery lover, and shared how her love of mysteries turned into a love of basketball.

“I was a fun girl. I liked adventure,” Cromer said. “When I was reading, I could be anything: a princess in a tower, or a basketball player. My teacher introduced me to Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, and then I started reading about basketball and all of the girl basketball players.”

To prove the point that knowledge is power, Cromer and Moore read the intermediate students a “DK Eyewitness Book” appropriately titled, “Basketball.” They read facts and figures to the students about the person who invented the game of basketball in 1891 and how it was first played.

The students were at full attention, so that they could answer questions for prizes at the end.

When the primary students arrived for their assembly, Moore read “Sheryl Swoopes Shoots Hoops,” one of Cromer’s favorite basketball stories about a WNBA star and player for the Houston Comets. The story shows Swoopes in a variety of basketball moves on each page, and Cromer acted out each move as Moore read aloud to the students.

After the story in each assembly – one for upperclassmen and another for the younger students – ended, Moore and Cromer led the students in a couple of basketball skill games and showed off their own talents.

Moore and Cromer didn’t leave without reinforcing the real reason why they were there.

“We’re here to encourage you to read,” Moore said.

“There’s a book you’re going to fall in love with,” Cromer added. “You just have to go to the library and find it.”

To learn more about One on One Basketball, visit their Web site at