WEST ORANGE, NJ -- St. Cloud Elementary School hosted its "Night of Hoops" fundraiser at Liberty Middle School on March 19. 

Fifth graders played basketball against volunteering parents, teachers, high schoolers and a team of third and fourth grade students.

Organizer Perry Bashkoff said, “This is just a good night to raise money for the fifth graders graduating and moving on to Edison.”

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That was echoed by parent Sally Apollon, who said, “All the money from this event goes to our end-of-the-year events, such as field trips, yearbook, and the graduation ceremony.”

The event included professional basketball players Kym Hampton and Duane Morgan, as honorary guests and coaches.

Hampton coached the fifth graders. She is a former WNBA basketball player, who was representing the New York Liberty team. The team had a booth with prizes that included towels and sports cards autographed by Hampton.  

Morgan coached the teachers, parents and students. He is a former West Orange High School student who played basketball overseas in Argentina, and is a one-on-one and group trainer for young students interested in basketball.

“West Orange is a great town and a lot of great basketball talent has come from this town,” he said. “It’s great that we’re promoting it, and have a whole night dedicated to the kids and basketball.”

West Orange High School volunteers included both the boys and girls basketball teams and the cheerleaders. Also, student Justin Davis, was the night’s DJ and student Kayla Moss ran a face painting booth.

WOHS Girls Basketball Coach Caniece Montague-Williams said she enjoyed the community involvement for her team, saying, “My hope for tonight is to see the girls get involved and continue to build strong relationships in the community.”

Many students, parents and teachers said they had been looking forward to this night.  

Apollon said, “The best part is seeing the kids, parents, and teachers all participating and being active together.”

That was echoed by fifth grade student Jermaine James, who said, “My dad and I practiced every night for this, and it was well worth it. It’s a great way to close off the year.”

St. Cloud Principal Eric Price said he was also grateful for all the parental help in making the night happen.

“The most important part that goes into preparing for this event is the dedicated parents who put it all together,” he said.

(Editor's Note: Josh Baker and Tyla Morgan are students at West Orange High School who are participating in a journalism program with TAPinto.net.)