The Battle for the Bell - Charity Basketball Game

July 2008

The Battle for the Bell, A Charity Basketball Game in Support of the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research

Baltimore County Public Schools, Charles G. Mallonee, III

Our project was to promote a charity basketball game to benefit the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. The Battle for the Bell began as an idea for a pickup basketball game between the faculties of Franklin Middle School and Franklin High School to promote and foster a closer relationship between the two schools. Once we brought the Jimmy V Foundation into the picture, the game took on a much deeper meaning and became a fight to raise awareness and donate money to cancer research.

Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?

We raised money to benefit the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research by providing an after school activity for all students to attend. Many people in our community are impacted by cancer. I taught a girl in my seventh period class who was frequently absent from school. I asked her about her absences and she told me how she had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in middle school and had surgery to correct it. Three years ago, one of our English teachers was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy. She was forced to shave her head when her hair began falling out from the chemo. Many of the faculty members and students at both schools have lost loved ones to cancer over the years.

Our charity event helped several groups of people. First of all, $8,500 was raised and donated in the fight against cancer which benefits everyone who has been, and will be, affected by this dreaded disease. The community was also strengthened and enriched through the friendly, competitive spirit that was developed by the game between the two schools’ faculties. Finally, our committee provided an evening of affordable entertainment for our community to attend.

Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?

The project was connected to the curriculum in several subject areas:
  • Health - Students researched and learned about cancer, cancer treatments, and cancer prevention in the weeks leading up to the event.
  • English/Journalism - Students wrote and published newspaper articles for the Franklin Gazette about Jim Valvano, the Jimmy V committee work, and provided coverage of the game.
  • Technology Education – Students used technology resources such as the television studio and equipment to record, edit, and broadcast information about the game.
  • Physical Education – Students observed good sportsmanship in a team sport environment.
  • Music Department – The combined middle school and high school pep bands rehearsed together after school to provide live music during the game.

Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?

Our student committee formed in early January, met again in February, met every week in March, and every day in April leading up to the game date. Meeting this frequently had the benefit of providing students a chance to make sure tasks were being accomplished. After the game, students wishing to apply for student service-learning hours were required to complete an additional reflection sheet about their experiences with the Jimmy V Foundation.

Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project? 

Franklin High School’s student committee consisted of a president, four grade-level vice-presidents, a treasurer, and a secretary. It was their responsibility to make up television commercials, coordinate the creation of informational posters, sell tickets and Paper V’s during the lunch shifts, and help set up and clean up the gymnasium. At the middle school level, the students were also permitted to solicit parents and businesses for additional donations to the Jimmy V Foundation.

Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?

Our corporate partners were V’s Tees of Reisterstown which provided discounted prices on our faculty t-shirts, Shawn Cudzilo of Football America who provided discounted prices on our uniforms for the game, Madison Avenue Incorporated who provided free print advertising for the event, and the Future All-Stars Summer Camp who provided part of our half-time show. The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research gave us our corporate banner and the logos, and provided the framework for our event.

Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?

The first part of planning involved recruiting our student officers by the January meeting date. We’ve been blessed each of the first two years to have dedicated students who took time out of their busy schedules to work on promoting the event, putting up posters, selling tickets during their lunch period, and raising money. Our FHS television crew also worked on producing video commercials for broadcast, and provided daily announcements three weeks prior to the event. The school newspaper wrote articles promoting the event for the March issue of the Franklin Gazette. The PTSA of both schools put our game in their mailings prior to the event.

Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?

The students learned about Jimmy V and his foundation dedicated to the fight against cancer. At the inaugural ESPY award banquet in 1993, Jim Valvano told the crowd that each day you should laugh, think, and allow emotions to move you to tears, “If you laugh, think, and cry, that’s a heck of a day.” Our committee gives students a chance to promote a sporting event, learn about the devastating effects of cancer, sell tickets, raise additional donations, and then enjoy a night of entertainment seeing their teachers in a non-academic setting. We strive to fulfill Jim Valvano’s message, “Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.”