Harlem Wizards put on dazzling show during school district fundraiser

Burlington Township School District hosts theatrical basketball team in game against staff members

Burlington Township School District staff members teamed up to face the Harlem Wizards in a fundraiser basketball game on Oct. 15 to support the Fountain Woods School Renaissance Program. The event was held at the Hopkins Building at Burlington Township High School. (Thomas Wiedmann/The Sun)

Bringing fun, excitement and entertainment to locals and fans alike, staff members from the Burlington Township School District teamed up for a fundraising basketball game against the Harlem Wizards.

The interactive and festive event was held at the Burlington Township High School Hopkins Building on Oct. 15 in an effort to raise funds for the Fountain Woods Elementary School’s Renaissance Program. The nationwide program was founded in 2007 and is aimed to reward and recognize both students and staff while improving the culture and climate of the school.

In pairing up with the Harlem Wizards organization to raise funds for the school program, the team’s talented basketball players treated audiences to unique skills, teamwork, dribbling, alley-oops and slam dunks with a humorous, theatrical twist that focused on entertaining Burlington locals.

Prior to tip-off against the Wizards, Tina Dietrich, the Renaissance Coordinator at Fountain Woods, said she helped organize the event with the team to serve as an enjoyable way for the school district to assist in its support of the program.

Dietrich also explained that a recent decision to join a district-wide initiative called the “New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in Schools” program goes hand-in-hand with the Renaissance Program to further encourage positive behavior and social conduct in the schools.

“We have had the Renaissance Program for 12 years, and this year we started incorporating some of the philosophies behind the PBSIS,” Dietrich said. “It’s to reward and recognize students for doing good things.”

Dietrich said that as part of the Renaissance Program, Fountain Woods implements recognition awards and activities for students and staff that focus on elements such as character education, a student and staff member of the month, student of the year, pep rallies at the end of each marking period, and citizenship awards.

Given the associated costs with the implementation of these awards and activities, Dietrich explained that fundraising efforts like the game against the Wizards are needed to assist in the program’s continuous operations.

“We do a lot of different things to try and reach as many [students] as we can,” Dietrich said. “We really try to reach, not just the academically excellent [students], but we also recognize students who work really hard or have improved, so more kids have a chance to be recognized.”

As the school staff members teamed up against the Wizards, they soon found themselves not only as friendly opponents, but also serving as participants in entertaining antics to the delight of the crowd.

The Wizards occasionally halted the game to interact and engage with members from the staff team and crowd that packed the high school gymnasium.

Fans got to witness trick-shots from all over the court or in the stands, receive complimentary Wizards merchandise for their participation and see their fellow teachers get dunked on.

“It’s great because we have all the families and students come out, so we really try to make it a whole community effort,” Dietrich said. “Everything we are doing is to raise the quality of climate and culture in our school, and this fundraiser is a great way to help us do that.”