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Harlem Wizards Come to Chappaqua

Wizards join forces with the Chappaqua School Foundation to raise money for education.

The stands were packed and the show sold out for Chappaqua's 12th annual Harlem Wizards basketball game Sunday at Horace Greeley High School. The event, hosted by the Chappaqua School Foundation (CSF) is one of two fundraisers the foundation holds to raise money to help fund educational programs within the Chappaqua school district.

Founded in 1993, the foundation is community-supported, and strives to help bring innovative educational programs to Chappaqua schools that are not covered by the Chappaqua school district budget. Through their work, CSF has helped provide the district with new programs, many of which have become part of their permanent school curriculum.

Every year CSF gives upwards of $200,000 dollars in grants to projects, which are generated by teachers, administrators, students and parents. According to CSF's president, Leslie Koch, there are currently 20 proposals submitted to the foundation this year.

For 12 years CSF has been hosting the Harlem Wizards fundraiser and the event has been sold out every time. Fans crammed into the gymnasium to watch the Wizards take on Chappaqua's own team, the Challengers, which is comprised of teachers from the school district. 

Even before the Wizards took the court they had the crowd on its feet. Once the game started, the Wizards had their fans laughing, cheering and gawking at their fast-paced, jaw-dropping plays. From half court free throws to show-stopping slam dunks, the Wizards had the fans' attention throughout the game, making for an incredibly entertaining event.

The Wizards were just as talented as comedians as they were basketball players, joking around the whole game while bringing fans from the bleachers onto the court and into the shenanigans.  

In the secondary gym down the hall from the game, fans got a chance to see what CSF is all about and some of the projects they have funded, which have been successful in the district. 

Such projects include the Geographic Information Systems and African Drumming at Greeley, Science Data Collection Probes at Robert E. Bell Middle School, a Wind Tunnel and the Harlem Renaissance Library at Seven Bridges Middle School, and the Climbing Wall and Weather Station at Westorchard Elementary School. WRBS News Studio and Writing Genre Kits from Roaring Brook Elementary School were on displayed inside the gym; showing contributors where their money was being spent.

These creative projects are all part of CSF's purpose. On its Web site, CSF says it prides itself in, "enhancing educational experience of our children," but it is also their role in motivating teachers that has stimulated creativity among faculty members.

In the game itself, the Wizards took a commanding lead over the Challengers throughout the first half, quickly moving around their opponents while dribbling the ball in every direction and making trick shots from absurd angles on the court. Dunks were followed by dunks, and even though the Wizards beat the Challengers 110-89, game announcer Bruce Weinreb said it best: "Regardless of the score, today has been an incredible day."

At the end of the game, CSF's president, Leslie Koch said the event had been a great success, "We raised somewhere close to $20,000 today,"  he said. While $20,000 might seem like a lot of money, Mrs. Koch reminded me that CSF has only two fundraising events per year. With close to $200,000 in grants given out each year, $20,000 is only a fraction of what they award projects.

"Since our start back in 1993," said Leslie Koch, "we've given out over $1,000,000 in grants towards educational programs in the Chappaqua school district."  The next Chappaqua School Foundation event will be held April 30 at the Grand Prix New York racing complex in Mount Kisco.  For more information about donating to CSF and upcoming events, visit its Web site.

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