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A Slam Dunk for Mendon Upton Schools

The MURSD All Stars faced off against the Harlem Wizards in a fun family event hosted by the Memorial and Clough Elementary School PTO's on October 20.

It was an afternoon of family fun and fundraising when the comedic basketball team the Harlem Wizards came to town to face off against teachers and staff from the Mendon Upton Regional School District.

The event was hosted by the Memorial and Clough Elementary Schools PTO's on October 20, but plans for the day have been in the works since last Spring. "We wanted to do something to bring the Mendon and Upton communities together," said Memorial PTO Co-President Julie De Zutter.

The fundraiser was held in the Nipmuc High School gymnasium, which was filled to capacity with over 1,200 in attendance. Opening ceremonies began with students from the district led by Chorus Director Ann Marie Tremblay in singing the National Anthem and troop members from the Mendon Upton Boy and Girl Scouts acting as the color guard and flag bearers.

Once the show got started, the Wizards and the "MURSD All-Stars," a 35-person team of administrators, teachers, staff members, and volunteers, were announced on the court before they squared off in a fast-paced, no holds-barred game.

With just as many antics and tricks as basketball playing, the Wizards amazed the crowd with "trick-hoops," and "alley-oops" for over two hours. Yet the loudest cheers from the crowd went to the home team, when points were scored by the teachers, principals, superintendent, or staff, all of whom "enthusiastically" volunteered to take part in the event.

"The fact that everyone stepped up and did this, it really speaks to the teachers and administrators that we have in the district," said De Zutter. "The teachers really set an example for their students by going above and beyond the classroom."

The half-time show included an energetic and entertaining performance by the Miscoe Hill Skippers, a dance party with members of the Wizards, and a hilarious "trick" basketball contest.

"All I saw were laughing children and smiling faces," said De Zutter, who called the event a "huge success." "Our goal was to have a fun family event, and we were able to make some money for the schools in the process," she said. Although final numbers are still being tallied, the two PTO's estimate that the fundraiser made $7,000 for Clough and Memorial, money that will go to pay for Cultural Arts programs, teacher requests, and classroom technology.

Sponsors for the event included Imperial Cars, Friendly's Ice Cream, Varney Bros., Phipps Insurance, Murphy Insurance, Uber Café, Honey Farms, and Millennium Realty.

The roster for the MURSD All Starts included Coaches: Carol Gibson and Dee Pulkkinen; Team Representatives: Kristen Berthao and Brenda Webster; Players: Joseph Maruszczak, Deb Swain, Jan Gallagher, Kristen Warren, Kim Lopes, Katie Cardamone, Kati Dunton, Jess Grady, Tim Thomsen, Olga Grau, Allison Chase, Natasha O'Connor, Wanda Monroe, Stephanie Taylor, LeighAnn Evans, Ollie McFadden, Amy Henderson, Dan Hayes, Cora Fior, Tara Bellefontaine, Gina Graves, Margarita Mojica, Amy Naples, Carol Sullivan, Marie Brigham, Larissa Olaso, Josephine Ronnquist, Danielle Schilioski, Molly Bergstrom, Nick De Marzo, and Liana Moore.


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