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Playing defense for school safety

The Crime Stoppers basketball game at John F. Kennedy Middle School drew a packed house inside the gym on Friday.

It was the school’s seventh- and eighth-grade basketball team against a team consisting of local law enforcement and faculty. Officers and deputies played two hard-fought halves and ultimately came on top.

But that was just according to the scoreboard. The Wolverines, who recently finished their season undefeated, worked the boards for rebounds and were fast in transition and relentless on defense. Their efforts were non-stop for 24 minutes of play.

“It was a good game for a worthy cause,” Sgt. Andre Sparks with the Suffolk Police Department said after the game. “There was camaraderie between the school and the police department. The gym was packed with a good turnout. I think it went well.”

School choirs sang “God Bless America” and the “The Star-Spangled Banner” in honor of Veterans Day, and the bleachers were filled with cheers and shouts after the songs and throughout the game.

John F. Kennedy special education teacher Shanna Teachey and seventh-grade teacher Dana Abbattista organized the school’s second joint basketball game to build better relationships between officers and the students.

“They’re awesome, and this is about bringing the community in to see that,” Abbattista said.

The two of them are co-heads of the school’s “Community Uplift By Students” program, or CUBS. This program is part of Crime Stoppers, a city-wide school club that allows students to report criminal activity in their school or community safely. Money raised from ticket sales for the game will go to support the Crime Line.

Abbattista said they’ve seen more students want to be involved in the program and do their part in the school.

“They know they have a role in this building to keep everyone safe,” she said.