A Night with the Nets

Last week a number of our students and our program’s principal attended a Nets game in Brooklyn. Enjoy the poem and pictures documenting their experience:


A Principal’s Tale (An Adult Literacy Family Story)


It started out a Friday night

I was last to leave the office, headed to Brooklyn, not to Jersey—a different site.


Walked to Grand Street with thick gloves and an orange “OKC” pompom hat

Got on the D-train to Barclay’s Center with the 6:30 rush hour pack.


Cramped like a sardine with a crackhead to my right

People all ignoring each other and pretending not to hear him, Oh what a night!


An older Chinese lady asked me could she get on the other side of me

I said yes because she wanted me to be a buffer as the crackhead said he wanted to pee.


Finally my station, Atlantic and Pacific, I was ready to enter

Came out the exit and could not see the Barclay Center.


I made a right and came right in front so no problem for me

But I worried about 64 students and staff who’d never been there so woe was all I could see.


Into the line for those without bar or purse

Out with your keys, cell phones and objects no matter friend or nurse.


I answered how can you give me a box no larger than a cereal bowl

When you know a Galaxy Note, wallet and my keys are heavier than gold?


Spread your arms and open your coat as I pass through security

I think good thing I took a bath and there is no humidity.


Turn right and go down until you find your section

Did the teacher teach the students this vocabulary or make an exception?


I was the first to arrive and was nervous as sheep

Worried til I could see all my lambs who are mine to keep.


The first two students came as I chatted with an usher

They said teacher have my coke and chicken, we’ll get another.


I felt relieved as they began to come in at a trickle

The usher said, you’re a teacher you must make a nice nickel.


I enjoyed the fresh faces and wide open eyes at the event

No more Ringling Brothers and animals, but sports is still a big family tent.


Some students came with husbands, children and friends

I was still called Michael, teacher, principal and boss on end.


They brought posters as I had instructed them to do

Some followed the directions, but I could tell that some teacher with NBA had no clue.


It was Chinese Heritage Night and the Brooklyn Nets made a great effort

I could see the student appreciation of it especially since in class and school Chinese language they could not revert.


The cameras and cell phones were snapping and clicking

But the hands and lips were passive, rigid and not flapping.


Mostly due to the lack of experience and the bad Nets performance

The Indiana Pacers were up by 10 points early and Jeremy Lin has no endurance.


I remembered that while not a Brooklyn fan, but OKC Thunder

I am the father, the principal and the family has to show muster.


I told the students when the Pacers came to the free throw line

To boo, hiss and say “miss it” and don’t worry or mind.


At first the Pacers drained the free throws like sipping a beer

But as the game wore on they started to miss so we knew they could hear.


Our students started to perk up as the Nets score drew near

And our chants of “D-E-F-E-N-S-E” grew deafening to every ear.


By the 4th quarter as the Nets took their first lead

My voice had grown hoarse and I was happy I had planted the seed.


The students stood, clapped, jeered and cheered

And the booming “Brooklyn” sound was feared.


And while the final score showed the Nets had gone to Defeat

In Sections 109 and 110 at Barclays they knew the Adult Literacy Program could not be beat.


I asked the children, the adults how did they like the night?

They said it was great, out of sight and dynamite!


I told them we shall go see hockey next time in New Jersey

They all responded with glee, when is next time as I ate my chocolate Hershey!?


I told them next year of course as I heard their deep sigh

Luckily I beat them to the bathroom and took my train or they may not have left me alive!


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