Students at Cedar Heights Junior High School (and most staff members) showed up for the school assembly Thursday with no idea what was in store.
When Richard Sherman walked into the room, the gym exploded in applause and excitement, said South Kitsap School District spokeswoman Amy Miller.
Sherman, a pillar of the Legion of Boom for the 2013 NFC
Champion Seattle Seahawks, agreed to speak at Cedar Heights’ “It
Takes Courage to be Great!” assembly as part of his work with
Blanket Coverage, the Richard Sherman Family Foundation.
Through the foundation, formed in 2013, Sherman provides students in low-income communities with school supplies and clothing so they can more adequately achieve their goals.
Sherman recently launched a new initiative to reach out to schools with large at-risk populations, according to Bryan Slater, Director of Community Outreach for the foundation and a member of its board. Cedar Heights does not fit the at-risk label statistically, said Slater, but Sherman wants to reach out to schools in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap County. Slater, a teacher in the Sumner School District, knows Ted Macomber, a dean at Cedar and supporter of previous Blanket Coverage events, and so the foundation connected with the school in South Kitsap School District.
Although Sherman did not distribute clothing at the assembly,
the Stanford grad did talk to the students about having the courage
and perseverance to keep trying even when the odds are stacked
Sherman fielded questions from the kids, including, “Will you be my best friend?” to “What was your most courageous moment?”
He also invited six students to sign Blanket Coverage contracts
to work on improving themselves in the areas of attendance,
behavior/attitude or academics. The kids are asked to document
where they’ve been falling short in any one of these areas and to
list specific actions they will try to take to change their habits.
The purpose is to encourage students to take small steps to reach
their bigger life goals, Slater said.
Sherman will personally follow up with the students to see how they are doing with their goals, according to Slater.
“Richard’s role is to kind of be a big cheerleader for the kids,” he said. “Richard doesn’t want this to be kind of a one and done thing. He wants to have authentic, real relationships with the kids.”
On his blog, Sherman on Thursday posted, “Shout out to Cedar
Heights Junior High School, I had an amazing time today. These kids
truly have a ton of potential; I hope I can help them reach it. We
had a few kids sign contracts today to improve in various areas of
their studies — it is always encouraging to see a student show
their dedication to becoming successful. I hope all the students
enjoyed it as much as I did. Keep up the hard work; it will pay
Sherman has already visited Rainer Beach High School in Seattle, where he had five students sign contracts. With more school visits ahead, how will he keep track of all these kids?
“Richard’s memory is so incredible, when he gets to meet these five or six kids, he’ll remember them forever,” Slater said.
Members of the media were not invited to or notified of the event.
“We’re not really interested in the publicity,” Slater said. “We don’t want it to be construed as a publicity stunt by Mr. Sherman.”
“South Kitsap School District would like to thank Richard Sherman and his family foundation for taking the time to visit Cedar Heights and make a difference for the students in our community,” Miller said.
— Photos Courtesy of Blanket Coverage