Students “Hooped-it-up” for Literacy

By: Rachel Adams

In honor of Chris Crutcher’s visit to Newnan High School in the spring, NHS hosted its very own Hoopfest on November 18.

The event was inspired by a single question from a student after discussing Chris Crutcher’s book Whale Talk, where the characters participate in the Spokane Washington Hoopfest.

“One student [in the Literacy Enrichment classes] asked why Newnan didn’t have a Hoopfest,” Dr. Kelli Sowerbrower, NHS Literacy Coordinator, said. “That was all it took.”

Mrs. Jami Bonomi, NHS English teacher, was teaching Whale Talk in her class when the question was posed.

“As we read Whale Talk, the students were curious about the event, and as soon as we researched it, the students were hooked on the idea of bringing Hoopfest to Newnan,” Mrs. Bonomi explained.

Student teams competed against each other in the three-on-three basketball tournament, all chasing the title of NHS Hoopfest Champions. These teams were: The Hoopers, the White Sharks, the Creepy Guys in Shorts, The Birds, the Ballerz, the Warriors and the Rockets.

The winning team was the Ballerz, with an excellent squad of Malik Hussie, Tyrek Hussie, Elijah Williams and Terrell Cox.

But Hoopfest wasn’t just about the basketball. Students could bring in money or donate a book in place of the price of entry into the competition. At the end of the night, the event had raised about $150 and a large pile of books. Students were excited to contribute to literacy as well as watch the games

All proceeds and donations were contributed to benefit the NHS Literacy Department.

“[The energy] was unbelievable,” Sowerbrower commented. “The championship game was awesome. The fans got into it yelling and cheering. The players stayed and watched, and the teams played like it was for a million bucks.”

Mrs. Bonomi said they were definitely considering doing Hoopfest again next year even after Crutcher’s visit.

“I just asked one of our winners, Elijah Williams, if he would be interested in playing again next year,” she noted. “He said, ‘Yes, ma’am, I’ll be playing in Hoopfest until I graduate!’”


Hoopfest was an important event in many ways, but it also showed students that reading is about more than just words on a page. It also relates to sports and real life.

“Sports literacy attracts a demographic that is not often comfortable reading,” Dr. Sowerbrower said. “Our athletes find authors like Chris Crutcher and want to read more. Meeting and hearing from Crutcher in April will then build that interest. Students do not ‘hate to read,’ they just have not found an author who interests them yet.”