CLARK, NJ — On Wednesday, March 29, it was students vs. faculty on the basketball court at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark during a March Madness event hosted by the Key Club and Student Movement Against Cancer. Proceeds from the event will benefit RWJ Hospital. Friends and family of the late Tyler Collins, a former student of ALJ High School, played in the game or sat in the bleachers to show their support.
“We’re raising money for the teen room at RWJ Hospital in New Brunswick where Tyler Collins received his chemo treatments,” teacher Sharon Mills told LocalSource in an interview while she was on the bench. “We want there to be more comfortable seats added and improve it in his memory. We’re hoping to make this an annual event. Tyler died a day before his 17th birthday of Ewing’s sarcoma. He fought cancer for years. Through several events, I’m hoping we raise $10,000.”
Tyler’s family sat on the bleachers to watch the game. His brother and friends played for the student team.
“I was a friend of Tyler’s,” Anthony Parin of ALJ High School told LocalSource in an interview during the game. “I’m playing in memory of him today. We were friends since the fifth grade. It’s nice to keep his name alive.”
Guidance counselor Erica Stasio sold tickets and lanyards at the door. A table of delicious baked goods, baked and donated by students at the school, stood outside the gymnasium door. Students baked brownies and cupcakes, and donated pretzels, chips, donuts and cookies.
“It’s nice to help out the community,” said Justyna Augustyn, a student running the bake sale. “Our goal is to raise about $200 to $300.”
Inside the gymnasium, the student and faculty teams sat with their coaches. Coaches of the student teams were Sydney Zamboni and Shelby Lynes.
“They’re doing a great job today,” Zamboni said. “We’ve had a few fast breaks and good rebounds.”
“We told them to have fun, play good defense and take quality shots,” said Lynes.”
The student team was falling short during halftime with a score of 12 to 19. Coaches for the faculty team were Lindsey Hofschnieder and Danielle Nugent.
“A lot of them are our teachers so we’re familiar with their strengths,” said Hofschnieder. “We’re trying to work with their strengths.”
“We told them to go for 3-point shots because they’re easier,” said Nugent. “We know they can make those shots so we’re betting on that.”
The stakes were raised when the announcer told the crowd that if the students won, there would be no school the following day, but if the faculty won, there would be school that Saturday. This must have been a strong motivator for students since the fourth quarter came to an end with a tie score of 48 to 48.
The crowd sat on the edge of their seats as the game went into overtime. During the fifth quarter, the student team continue to play for the win.
“This is a nice event,” Laura Wiese of Clark told LocalSource in an interview at the game. “It’s really fun. I want the students to win since I have a freshman and senior at the school. The faculty is great though.”
During the last quarter of the game, the faculty decided they didn’t want to come to school on Saturday so there would be no school the following day no matter which team won. The final score was 67 to 50, a true victory for the students.