I am the school counselor at the Highbridge Green Middle School in the South Bronx. Part of my job entails meeting with my students to discuss their academic progress and struggles. While sitting with one of my students Izaack and discussing the improvement he has made both academically and socially, it became very evident that joining the school's lacrosse team was playing a major role in his improvement.
Izaack went from struggling and almost failing his first two years of middle school to now maintaining passing grades in order to remain on the team. Izaack was often involved in conflicts with peers stemming from the slightest provocation and has now refrained from altercations since he’s been on the lacrosse team. When I spoke to Izaack he described Coach Leventhal as a mentor, which seems to be the common theme among the students on the team, as many of them lack the support of both parents in the home.
Coach Leventhal has motivated students in developing a passion for lacrosse (which is a sport not common for inner-city children) while also challenging them academically. He makes his players feel important and makes them feel as if college is not an impossible dream but something they can attain with hard work and dedication. Coach Leventhal also dedicates his personal time to accompany students on college visits and conducts practices on weekends. Teenagers who struggled to wake up just to get to school are now waking up at 6:30 am or earlier in order to get to school for practice. The students apart of the team are also studying harder than ever to maintain their grade point average.
It’s amazing to witness this change in my students due to the introduction of the lacrosse program at the Highbridge Green Middle School. I hope that Bronx Lacrosse continues to grow and flourish throughout different schools in the area.
Tiffany Nieves, Highbridge Green School Counselor