Hoops for Habitat Raises Excitement and Money

Touted by Director of Service Learning and math teacher Donell Thompson, Jr. ’91 as “the most lit occasion” of the school year, Middle Schoolers enjoyed a fun-filled Hoops for Habitat event in the Old Gym on Tuesday, February 22. All proceeds — $1,400! — will benefit Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, which works to meet Central Maryland’s need for affordable housing.

“Although there is institutional history of the event, no one has really seen a Hoops for Habitat since 2019. The sixth and seventh graders had no idea what it was going to be like,” Thompson said, explaining how he promoted the event to build anticipation for those who were unfamiliar. Because parents did not work the event this year, students and faculty made sure the event ran smoothly. About a dozen boys, with help from a couple of teachers, managed the score table and the holding pen.

The festivities began with the hula hoop competition. In 2021, hula hoops replaced the traditional basketball tournament because of safety concerns related to the pandemic; because of its popularity, it was kept on as an additional competition this year. “It really gave kids a chance to shine who were not basketball players, and we have always looked for ways to engage students,” Thompson said. “As long as I’m part of organizing the event, hula hoops will be part of it.” Not only were more Gilman students able to participate, but because Hoops fell on the same day that newly accepted boys visited the Middle School, some of them got to compete as well.

The final two hula-hoopers were still going strong when emcee David Menard, science teacher and Director of Bridges at Gilman, spoke to the excited group to introduce the basketball portion of the event. He reminded the boys about the day’s purpose: to have fun and help our community.

In three grade-level tournaments, a total of 49 teams played three-on-three games until a final winner was declared for each grade. Students got creative with team names and some with their outfits, too.

Around the semi-final round, students who had been eliminated from the tournament or who wanted a change of scenery moved into two spaces either to prepare sandwiches for Paul’s Place or to write thank you notes for veterans and deployed troops through Operation Gratitude and letters of encouragement through Baltimore Hunger Project. These activities tied into the seventh grade math unit about food insecurity.

The final hula hoop winners were:

  1. 8th Grade: Richard N. and Arjun R. (called a tie at more than 20 minutes!)
  2. 7th Grade: Cian C. (who could have gone longer but was the last man standing at 7 minutes)
  3. 6th Grade: Charlie D. (who also could have continued but was the only sixth grader left hooping at 5 minutes)

Team winners of the basketball tournaments were:

  1. 8th Grade: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (Jute T., Rohan V., Matthew G.)
  2. 7th Grade: We Can Beat the 8th Grade (Desmond B., Will S., Marcus T.)
  3. 6th Grade: And One (Quinn T., Ronan W., Cooper A.)

Though the success of the event could be measured by minutes hooped, baskets scored, or money raised, Thompson said, “What made me really proud was that the kids seemed to have a whole lot of fun.”