Education is important. Especially in a city where a mere 28% of public high school students will graduate.
While everyone is quick to pat the athlete on the back (we do it too) not everyone is so generous with praise for the ones getting it done in the classroom.
We do a couple of things to stress the importance of academics:
Academic All Star Game – Students whose grades improve or stay the same throughout the course of the season get to participate in the game. We try to make a big deal out of the day by having it off site (This year it was at Notre Dame Prep) announcing the players over the loud speaker and even getting special shirts made up.
Reading Program – In order to encourage reading we wrote a book about a boy in the city that plays football. When players read a chapter and voted on what the main character should do next they got to but their name in a drawing. At the end of the season we gave away a bunch of stuff.