By Caleb Nordgren
Holt Journal staff writer
On a day featuring four NCAA Tournament games and three NBA games, Hope Middle School put together a crowd for an afternoon of basketball that impressed even the high school basketball players in attendance.
Hope held its annual March madness event March 28, starting with a school-wide talent show and ending with a basketball tournament played before a packed house. The event is designed to build school spirit and foster a sense of community, Hope teacher Joe Cleary said, and is held on the final day before spring break every year.
At 1:15 p.m., the entire student body gathered in the smaller of Hope’s two gyms for the talent show. The show featured 38 acts, with the talents including singing, dancing, tumbling and playing instruments.
Shannon Stavischeck, a teacher who helped organize the event, said she thought the show went well, although she also said it ran a bit long. Typically, Hope tries to finish the show in about an hour, but this year’s show was closer to 75 minutes, she said.
Cleary also said the talent show “could probably be a little bit tighter,” time-wise, but he was pleased overall.
“It was great,” he said. “I felt like the goal of showcasing some kids’ talents (was) achieved.”
Both Stavischeck and Cleary said they’ll be looking into putting all the music for next year’s show on one playlist, rather than on individual CDs and iPods as it was this year.
Cleary said he was pleased with audience also.
“You always hope the kids are respectful,” he said. “But when they come through the way they did, you can’t help but be pleased.”
Once the show concluded around 2:30 p.m., that respectfulness turned into something else. Namely, passion and energy.
The basketball tournament is organized through academic “teams.” Students are placed in one of four teams for their grade level at the start of each year and each team has its own set of teachers and students that stay together all year. When it comes time for March Madness, each basketball team comes from one of the academic teams and the students who don’t play support their team fiercely.
The gym was extremely loud for the tournament, and Cleary said that’s pretty typical.
“Those kids scream their heads off,” he said.
The tournament starts with teams battling it out within their own grade level, with the winners from fifth and sixth grade facing off in the championship game. This year, team 52 played team 63 for the title, with the sixth graders coming out on top and earning the chance to play a team of staff members. The staff team won fairly easily.
The games are refereed each year by members of the Holt High School varsity basketball team. This year, seniors Tanner Beachnau, Trevor Stone and Donte Jackson and junior Don’Quall Jackson represented the Holt boy’s team, which made it to the regional finals this year, at Hope.
All four are former Hope students, which is a big part of why they agreed to come over, Beachnau said. He added that he enjoyed the experience and would tell his teammates to help out in the future if they got a chance.
“It’s a nice atmosphere,” Beachnau said. “Seeing the kids happy and having us be role models is a really cool feeling.”
One oddity from this year’s event was the presence of games that went into overtime during the tournament. Three games required extra time to be decided and one needed a shootout before a winner could be declared. Cleary said that had never happened before.
“We’ve never had, in all the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve never had an overtime,” he said. “And this year we had three.”