Monday, November 05, 2012

Not Just Lacrosse - Squash Program in NYC Schools

One of my friends saw the article about lacrosse in Harlem and forwarded a NYT article about a program to teach kids squash (what’s next, crew??? ;-) (NBC News did a story as well):

With his tie gone long before he had arrived, Joshua Gary needed only a few minutes to change out of his public high school’s mandatory black sweater and slacks and into his squash gear: white shoes, shorts, clear protective glasses. Screeches of excitement and sneakers echoed across the eight courts as he joined Jamel Key, 17, and Jennifer Moses, 18.

The three college-bound seniors from Thurgood Marshall Academy, friends since junior high, dodged and glided their way to and from the red “T” at the center, the ball hugging the right wall with each shot.

Less than two weeks remained before they would graduate from StreetSquash, an intensive program that combines athletics and academics, and they seemed to be getting in all the shots they could. Each of the students would be heading to college, but none where they could play squash for their school.

“Squash is the vehicle,” said George Polsky, the executive director of StreetSquash, which after nearly 10 years of borrowing courts around Manhattan will graduate its first class from a spacious new home in Harlem this week. “It means more to me to help them figure out a math problem than how to hit a serve.”

While StreetSquash has no entrance requirements, each potential student is evaluated during a monthlong trial where attendance is paramount. Miss more than a couple of sessions without an excuse, Mr. Polsky said, and students may find that StreetSquash is not for them. The four-day-a-week commitment is substantial: two days of homework and squash, one day of SAT prep (for high school students) or literacy education (for sixth to eighth graders), and Saturday, which is reserved for squash.

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