Norfolk 17 Essay

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Dover-Sherborn Regional High School

  • Dover-Sherborn Regional School District, MA
  • 9-12
  • 58

5 Best Public High Schools in Norfolk County

Senior: Dover-Sherborn provides an excellent education that thoroughly prepares you for college. The staff is dedicated & involved. Our athletics are competitive, with coaches pushing you to be better a athlete & work together as a team. Though I regard DS highly, it has areas that need improvement--it’s a wealthy, homogenous community that tends to disregard the diversity of our student body. They're under represented, but, DS does consist of varying races, sexual orientations, and religions. DS needs to work to create a safe environment for these students & address problems of those who ostracize them. DS would also benefit from an enhanced art department in classes like drawing, ceramics, guitar, and TV media. There's an incredible focus on education, but to create a well rounded student there has to be more emphasis on arts, discussion, service, & club involvement. Overall, DS is a wonderfully caring & educational community, but like any other school, has room for improvement.
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  • 663 Students

  • 11:1 Student-Teacher Ratio

“When I first started, I was just concerned with getting kids off the streets during my watch as town manager, but somewhere in the years since then, the program has changed me. I don’t know where, don’t know when, but I started trying to see the world through the eyes of these youths, and I didn’t like what I saw.” — G Van Standifer, creator of the first midnight basketball program.

Nothing about newly elected Mayor Kenny Alexander’s crime prevention initiative is new.

Not the name, which has adorned a myriad of teams and programs throughout the decades — the most famous of which is a now defunct arena league football team which used to play in the Scope. Not the idea, which originated in the mind of a Prince George County town manager back in 1986.

If there’s anything even remotely novel about Norfolk’s Nighthawks it lies in the the level of commitment on the part of our fair city of the cannonball to seek out methods of preventing young adults from killing each other. The idea is simple enough: Give young men in crime ridden neighborhoods something to do during the hours they’re most likely to get killed. Use basketball to lure them off the street, and while you have them use that time as an opportunity to provide workshops focusing on skills that will improve their odds for a better life. In many ways it’s fitting that a city like Norfolk, a city that is arguably the cradle of the state of Virginia, draws upon lessons learned in a program that started a mere 70 miles away. A program that spawned countless iterations all across the country some thirty years ago and provoked national dialogue about crime and urban youth. Instead, the money went towards locking them up.

Of course, those with short memories may forget the political hot potato midnight basketball became as debate raged over Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill. Critics derided programs utilizing late night sporting events as bribes to criminals. Liberal proponents of the concept pointed towards lowered crime rates as a direct result. As conservatives seized control of most of our government, funding to divert at risk youth from crime largely went the way of passenger pigeons. That is to say: it vanished from the face of the earth.

I took a few hours to visit the two sites in Norfolk running the program. I left buoyed by what I witnessed. Young men, playing hard. Young men. Who, when they fell to the floor? Got back up. Competitive men. Who, when they caught a stray elbow in a tough game? Shook it off. I saw camaraderie and teamwork. I saw men with futures. I saw the beginning of something that may well grow into greatness.

I believe there’s possibility here. Will programs like this correct the issues that create crime in the first place? Well, no. We’ve much work to do in the areas of economic expansion and social justice before we start to see further advancement in that arena. But if midnight basketball can help keep young black men alive until we do begin to make real progress in this city? It’s a start. And not a bad start at that.

Well done, Mr. Mayor. Now keep it going.

“Midnight basketball was described as paying money so that crackheads could play basketball in the middle of the night. What they left out was the fact that every time they put midnight basketball in a neighborhood, the crime rate plummeted. You saved more money than you spent on the midnight basketball. They left that part out.”— Representative Bobby Scott, speaking on the failures of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and critics of social programs of the early to mid 90s

“… there was no empirical information, scholarly or otherwise, publicly available on midnight basketball at the time. This is a crucial point for it suggests that the debate over midnight basketball was driven not by facts about the structure or effectiveness of such programs. It was about something else, something other than midnight basketball altogether. It was a symbol or shorthand for other, larger issues implicated in the massive crime bill initiative. The 1994 debate over midnight basketball was, in short, a textbook example of “symbolic politics” at work.”— Midnight Basketball and the 1984 Crime Bill Debates: The Operation of a Racial Code. The Sociological Quarterly, 2007. Darren Wheelock & Douglas Hartmann

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”— Muhammad Ali

“We can have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.”— John Wooden

“He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.”— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Poet. Photographer. Publisher. Artist. Musician. Occasional actor. Infrequent Journalist. Co-founder of the Hampton Roads Performance Poetry Scene.

Filed Under: ACTIVISM, HOME PAGE SLIDERTagged With: Bobby Scott, midnight basketball, Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

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