NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal teamed up with Epson and Communities in Schools (CIS) to donate color printers, projectors and white boards to 11 schools. The schools will also have two years of free printer ink. To celebrate the partnership, O’Neal visited Daniel Webster Middle School to speak with the CIS kids and be the surprise guest at a schoolwide pep rally.
“It’s gonna be a really great opportunity for the kids to start using technology to help further their education,” said CIS corporate volunteer manager Jacqwel Brown.
The students from Communities in Schools talked with O’Neal and Epson CEO Keith Kratzberg about their favorite and least favorite subjects in school, music they listened to in middle school and the importance of education. O’Neal enlightened the kids on encyclopedias and the rap group Public Enemy and warned them about overconsuming social media.
“When I asked them when do they think education stops and quite a few of them said “it never ends” I was really happy to hear that,” Kratzberg said. “A lot of kids don’t realize that especially today’s economy, keeping your education up, there’s always more to learn.”
Students created posters for the event with pictures of squids alluding to their ink production. During the pep rally, the school’s band performed before O’Neal and Kratzberg addressed the students. The students were beyond elated that O’Neal was the surprise guest and the NBA legend enjoyed spending the day with them.
“I realize these kids look up to me, so I want to be able to show them that I’m human,” O’Neal said. “I want them to be able to see that the biggest superstars are normal, nice, respectful.”
The youth from CIS were astonished by the humility of O’Neal. Seventh grader Faith Potts noted how O’Neal felt like just your average person when speaking to him. While meeting NBA star was exciting, Potts looks forward to using the color ink printers for her upcoming science assignment.
“We can have colors that we want now,” Potts said. “We don’t have to color them in like we used to.”
Eight grade student Christian Harris has an engineering project to turn in soon and the colored ink will be of aide. After Harris asked O’Neal about his statue at Staples Center, O’Neal noted how listening to people helped him throughout his career.
“Just meeting Shaq, all the information he gave off … he has a doctors’ degree, that’s something else than just basketball,” Harris said. “He said just listening to people around you … actually listen to what they are saying, you’ll succeed in life.”
The students of CIS felt like there was not much of a difference between them, O’Neal and Kratzberg. They emphasized how the students must pursue education to accomplish their dreams. Tylyn Fields, the CIS site director at Daniel Webster, noted the impact of the conversation and how the new printers will be a great resource for the students.
“It was amazing to have both Shaq and the Epson team come out,” Fields said. “Our kids are really not exposed to things like this and just to give them something to look forward to, positive people, positive influences.”