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Ball players, reporter help students with assignment

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By The Staff

Students across the school district met at Covenant Baptist Church on Feb. 8 for the 12th annual READ-In.

Forty middle school students from area schools were divided into different groups to discuss the book, "Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery" by John Feinstein.

A.R. Rucker sixth-grader JeNae Jones enjoyed the book.

"I like the book because it's about sports... Basketball is a great sport and it's competitive," Jones said.

Just like the characters in the book, students received pointers about being a reporter.

Jesef Williams, a reporter for The Lancaster News, and David Knight, director of public information for the Lancaster County School District, gave them advice on writing news stories.

Knight entertained students with his wit and humor as he engaged them in writing tips related to the classroom.

He and Williams talked about why it's important to include who, what, when, where and why in stories, and they described how to write lead sentences and use quotes in stories. They also explained that the inverted pyramid format means telling the most important parts of a story first, then giving the less important details.

Williams may have felt like a superstar as students requested his autograph.

A.R. Rucker eighth-grader McKenzie Blanton appreciated the advice Williams and Knight gave.

"I think the advice can be very helpful if I decide to become a journalist one day," Blanton said.

"By knowing how to write an article, it helps you know how to read it," added Kristen Melton, a Buford Middle School seventh-grader.

Students used their new skills to interview two Winthrop University basketball players – forwards Mantoris Robinson and Jonathan Rice.

"Having your priorities straight is the most important thing," Robinson said.

Rice said keeping a weekly schedule and setting up meetings with teachers is important to success in school.

Olivia Stogner recalled Rice's comment, "If you have a dream, never let anything overpower it."

The two 6-foot, 5-inch players also played a game of ball with the students in the gym.

During the knock-out game, students lined up behind the free-throw line. The person in front shot. If that person missed and the next person in line made the shot, then the person in front was out of the game.

The winner from Rice's team was Jordan Caroway. The winner from Robinson's side was Taylor Deas.

"It was a awesome alley oop," said sixth-grader Caroway.

"It felt great winning, since I play for the (Buford Yellow) Jackets," Deas said.

"It was a knock-out punch," said Will Blakely, an sixth-grader at A.R. Rucker.

After watching a brief interview with the author of "Last Shot" and eating lunch, the students participated in their own Final Four mystery competition.

The first round was A.R. Rucker vs. South and A.J. vs. Buford, both classic rivalries. Each had to solve a mystery before the other. A.R. Rucker and Buford won the matches.

The final round was between A.R. Rucker and Buford. Rucker was quick to start and stayed close in the competition all the way, but in the end, Buford stung the Rucker Rams.

"I've enjoyed other READ-ins, but this has been my favorite by far," said Savannah Bailey, a student at Buford.

"The day was a slam dunk," said Jory Pettit, a seventh-grader at A.R. Rucker.

Students Rasheed Blackmon, Will Blakley, McKenzie Blanton, Peyton Brumfield, Jordan Caroway, Deuce Dunlap, JeNae Jones, Mark Lathan, Jory Pettit, and Arnold Roman. Kristen Melton, Taylor Deas, Olivia Stogner, Savannah Bailey, Alex Daigle, Jesse McPhearson, Katie Dixon, Lauren Hinson, Cheyenne LaDue and Julian Small contributed to this article.