Sunday, May 19, 2002

Good News: Volunteers coach teen athletes on studies

        Suzanne Fischer, a private tutor, sat with two Taft High School football players. They diagrammed a solution to a math problem. It was a little harder than the diagram of a play pattern to Jessie Gardner and Antonio Dobbs, both 17-year-old running backs for the football team.

        The students and tutor are part of the “Coach Initiative” program, started by the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati.

        The program is made up of volunteers who help Taft football players maintain their grade point average to participate in sports.

        “I am starting to learn a little more about physics and math,” said Antonio of Walnut Hills. “I am glad to be in this program because it can help me keep my grades up.”

        Jessie really doesn't have a grade problem.

        But he wants to make sure he maintains at least a 2.0 GPA to be able to play football.

        “Right now my GPA is 3.2,” said Jessie of North College Hill.

        He was an honor roll student at Taft last year.

        Across the table, Avery Snell, 15, who wants to be a linebacker on the team, is going over world history with University of Cincinnati sophomore Dustin Wright, 22.

        “I think we have been received by the students very well,” said Mr. Wright, who is tutoring as part of a community service class. “They know that we care about them and they know that their coach wants to make them complete students.”

        Flashing a big smile after the tutoring session, Avery said, “History is one of my toughest subjects, but I am coming around. I have to struggle to get back because I was suspended for fighting.”

        He lives in Mount Healthy.

        According to Taft High School football coach Mike Martin, 55 of the 80 students who signed up to play football are not eligible because of grades.

        The tutoring takes place at the Genesis Men's Program, 727 Ezzard Charles Drive, a block from the school, 3:30-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

        Mrs. Fischer said she read about the program in the newspaper and decided she wanted to help.

        She has a master's degree in education and biology, and tutors math and science at Seven Hills Middle School.

        “I think this is one of those projects that may take awhile to get off the ground, but it is going to be good,” she said.

        “The students coming in next year will have a better chance.”
        The Freedom Playground will be dedicated at 6 p.m. today at 2026 Seymour Ave., Roselawn. The playground will be an addition to Roselawn Park, which will become home to one of Cincinnati's largest playgrounds.

        Thousands of volunteers are scheduled to participate in the dedication.

        The Freedom Playground will include a replica of an American eagle over the entrance, a copy of the Statue of Liberty and a boat, USS Liberty. There also will be a “freedom maze,” featuring paintings by local artists.

        “This is a 1,000 Hands Project that has been built in five days,” said Bunny Arszman, director of mar keting and public relations for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

        The 1,000 Hands Project helps build playgrounds in the area.

        Allen Howard's “Some Good News” column runs Sunday-Friday. If you have suggestions about outstanding achievements, or people who are uplifting to the Tristate, let him know at 768-8362, at or by fax at 768-8340.


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