The BSA: scoring big time

Feb. 26, 2007, midnight | By Gus Woods | 14 years, 2 months ago

Academy's support classes boost Blazers' GPAs

In senior Jose Nieto's sophomore year, his GPA rose from 0.85 to 2.71. Now, he says, he has maintained a 3.0 since. His secret? The Blair Sports Academy.

The Blair Sports Academy (BSA) has organized popular after-school activities for students, including ping pong tournaments and other board games in the SAC after-school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. But the BSA provides more than fun and games. Since its implementation, many students have seen their grades improve significantly after attending its academic support classes.

Nieto met Jose Segura at his middle school, where Segura was a security guard. Nieto's parents spoke little English and Segura translated for them and kept a close relationship with the family throughout the school year. When Segura came to Blair as a recreation specialist, he helped organize the BSA's soccer tournament.

Photo: The Blair Sports Academy (BSA) will implement several changes in the fall, but activities such as table tennis tournaments will continue to be a part of the program.

Then a sophomore at Blair, Nieto, who was ineligible for the school's soccer team because of his grades, joined the BSA because of the tournament and his friendship with Segura. He acknowledges that he did not care about school when he joined the BSA and he credits the academy for his turnaround.

Students participating in the academy with GPA's less than 2.0 must attend academic support classes after school from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. or during fifth period classes in room 177. Blair's administration increased funding and hired more qualified tutors for the BSA's academic support program, at the recommendation of recreation specialist Jose Segura, social studies teacher Marc Grossman who compiled a written assessment of the program last August, the SGA and the PTSA. With these changes in place, many students have already seen their grades improve while having fun on the basketball court or the soccer field.

Success Stories

Nieto says his turnaround could not have been possible without his passion for soccer. He did homework assignments with help from the tutors at the academic support classes organized by the BSA and attended classes in order to play soccer with the academy, because the specialists in charge of the academy made it clear that he could not participate unless he did so. Segura and Nieto agree that the sports and other activities are what draw most students to the academy, and that the opportunity to compete is a good incentive to get students in the classes. "Kids love to compete and be a part of something." Segura says.

Today, Nieto has been offered the chance to be recruited to play for a Division 1 team in the National Capital Soccer League (NCSL) for half a semester, and he says the BSA continues to help him prepare for college and search for other available soccer teams. "People have told me I have the talent to play Division I and have encouraged so I'm going for it," he says.

Junior Isadore Melton, who recently scored the game high of 15 points in the first round of playoffs against Watkins Mill, played for the JV football team as a freshman and is currently a center on the varsity basketball team. He says it was his participation in the BSA in his sophomore year that improved his grades and kept him eligible to play for Blair. He attended the academic support classes where the tutors helped him work on overdue projects, and saw his grade in Algebra 2 rise from a D to a B and his grade in English increased from an E to a B. His GPA in this sophomore year rose from 1.47 to 3.0.

Before joining the BSA, junior Marcellus Muhammad struggled in his math, science and English classes. When he began playing in the BSA's basketball tournament and attending academic support classes he saw his grades in precalculus, chemistry and English improve. "I'm always getting caught up with something at home," he says, adding that the classes give him a quiet place to do homework.

Like Nieto, junior Edwin Melendez wanted to play on the school's soccer team, but he was ineligible because of his grades. When he began participating in the BSA's soccer tournament and taking academic support classes his GPA rose from 1.85 to 2.75. His English and math grades in particular have improved. Melendez commends the academy's system which rewards students with time on the field in exchange for progress in school and he says that Segura and recreation supervisor Stephanie White were especially supportive of him.

Nieto, Melton, Muhammad and Melendez all say that they prefer spending time with the BSA over heading straight home after school.

Looking Forward

In the future, Segura hopes to expand the academy's academic and mentoring program, with SAT preparation and career development courses. "I want the program to be about more than just sports," he says.

Gus Woods. William "Gus" Woods is a junior who enjoys, far more than anything else, tiddlywinks tournaments and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" re-runs. He is a great fan of any and all music and enjoys playing the piano in his spare time. He belongs, literally belongs, … More »

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