WEST END -- "Anyone with a G.P.A above 2.7 in the house?" the PA announcer bellowed to the crowd at last night's boys' basketball game between Taft and visiting Hughes. Many students in the stands responded with cheers. "Anyone accepted to a Division I college in the house?", he asked. More cheers.
Taft High School was in the news recently when shots were fired on campus by a student. It's an all-too familiar scene in this inner-city neighborhood where drugs and violence have become a way of life for many residents.
Although security remained tight on Saturday, the atmosphere in Taft's gym was one of positive encouragement, spirit and teamwork.
My task was to cover the game for the Enquirer and submit a roughly 500-word story on deadline for this morning's edition. But, it didn't take long for me to realize that there's a much bigger story at Taft, and a much more important tale than the one I was assigned to write.
That senior Derius Hemphill hit two free throws to lift Hughes to a last-second victory is certainly noteworthy. The Big Red has had to deal with the death of their head coach, Greg Mills, who passed away last year and a couple of key players who decided to transfer.
But, important too is that amid all of the challenges facing them collectively, students, faculty, and spectators chose to forgo their Saturday night plans to gather in this rustic, steamy gym and celebrate school spirit and a sense of community.
Here's a link to my story. While a decent representation of the game (I hope), it doesn't even begin to tell the whole story of what's happening at Taft High.