MONTVILLE, NJ - As a character education advisory project, Homeroom 44 of the Robert R. Lazar Middle School, organized a 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament. Students, Joshua Carus, Matthew Bettio, and Matthew Caprio, developed the idea for a pay to play charity donation game to benefit a Montville family. The local family is in need of funding to assist with the mother’s cancer treatments. The three students hoped the event would encourage others to have fun while giving back to the community. The eighth graders were guided throughout the project by School Counselor, Jessica Gonzalez, and science teacher, Gabriel Maffei.

Student, John Acker, took on the role of project manager and helped his peers to facilitate all the logistics. Carus also wrote the press release.

In preparation for the event all Homeroom 44 students reached out to local businesses to sponsor prizes and refreshments and donate to the good cause.

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Homeroom 44 also drove an enthusiastic advertising campaign preceding the tournament. Students made posters and flyers as well as spoke in front of large groups of their peers to encourage attendance.

Lazar students put together their own teams of three. Each player donated $5 to play.

The event was held in the Lazar gym in May, 2015. Thirty students, in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, participated. Two hundred dollars was raised for the local family. 

Homeroom 44 students refereed, kept score, kept time, played and arranged both the tournament and refreshment stand.

Attendees included: Zain Aamer, Anthony Acker, John Acker, Jake Aiello, Sarray Alonso, Justin Axelrad, Maxim Bakowski, Luke Becker, Jake Berliner, Anoop Bhat, George Blumenschein, Lelia Camplone, Matthew Caprio, Joshua Carus, Michael DiVincent, Adam Foye, Nikhil Ganesh, Rishabh Ganesh, Kevin Garcia-Higgs, Kurt Heim, Matthew Husti, Alexander Khalaf, Mateo Ladino, Sang hyun Lee, Hannah Leeb, Brett London, Ryan Macheska, Arnav Mahajan, Gregory Nieskens, Alex Pak, Samuel Park, Dev Patel, Edwin Pavlovsky, Richard Prager, Jacob Sabet, Noman Saeed, Grant Shine, Zachary Stolz-Illge, and Aaron Warsaw.

The players competed all afternoon, and the team of Kurt Heim, Gregory Nieskens, and Aaron Warsaw were declared the winners.

As the top scorer, Heim was also awarded an iTunes gift card.

Following the event, tournament participant, Alex Khalaf, said, “Playing basketball with my friends was fun, but there is no better feeling then knowing we were helping another friend in need.”

The fundraiser was an excellent afternoon of fun and competitive basketball for a great cause. In addition, the students of Homeroom 44 learned important skills for building character and helping others.