Students at St. John Regional Catholic School shrieked with joy as LaMarvon Jackson — known as “Showtime” with the Harlem Wizards basketball team — spun a ball on his long finger.
After a couple of slam-dunks and some prizes were handed out, students quickly calmed down as they headed off to help pack backpacks with supplies for people in need.
Monday’s display from the Wizards — a performing team that does fundraising events around the world, similar to the Harlem Globetrotters — kicked off the school’s celebration of National Catholic Schools Week.
Sunday was the start of the designated week, in which Catholic schools across the country plan events to celebrate their faith and preserving their way of education.
At St. John Regional, the week is a big deal, said Sheila Evers, a spokeswoman.
This year, each student is filling a drawstring bag with food, bottled water, a first-aid kit and hygienic products. That’s a total of 550 bags, said Mary Haley, a parent volunteer.
Instead of donating bags to a local charity, the school will send them home with the children. The families then give them out when they find someone in need in their community.
“Every student is going to take one home for their parents to keep in their family car,” Haley said. “Whenever they come across someone in need, when the opportunity arises, they can give it to someone.”
Haley said that a key aspect of Catholic education is a service component, so highlighting it is important.
The school enrolls a little more than 530 students, Evers said. Though some faith-based schools have seen declining numbers and have struggled financially, St. John Regional has not, in part because of its affiliation with the Archdiocese of Baltimore. She described the school as “thriving,” with enrollment rising.
When Visitation Academy, the all-girls Catholic school in downtown Frederick, closed last summer, St. John Regional took in a lot of its students, Evers said.
“It’s very tight-knit,” Evers said. “It’s a big thing that makes our school unique ... that we’re a big family here and we’re constantly doing service projects.”
As the students packed the bags, Devon Curry, another member of the Harlem Wizards, looked on. He’s known as “Livewire.”
Curry said he played for the Globetrotters for a few years, and this type of job for him “was the most fun.” He travels across the globe for charity events. He recently went to China.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids and the families, there’s no better job than that,” Curry said.