Harlem Middle School hit a home run with its back-to-school celebrations last week when University of Georgia baseball coach David Perno spoke to the student body Thursday.
The 400-plus Bulldogs who assembled in the gym greeted the coach with cheers and applause. Perno returned their enthusiasm by offering words of encouragement to help them have a successful academic career.
"You've got to make good study habits, good decisions. You've got to start now if you want your dreams to come true," Perno said.
He also talked about setting goals.
"The thing about goals is you can always redirect. You can always redirect what you want to accomplish," he said. "The only failure is not trying."
Perno told how the 2008 Georgia baseball team, which lost to Fresno State University in the College World Series finals in June, set its goals for the season.
He said no one expected the team, which almost doubled its win total of 23 games in 2007 to 45 games in 2008, to reach the CWS finals.
Perno told the pupils that they could create their own pathways to success.
"Don't lose your passion. Don't lose your enthusiasm," he said.
Eighth-graders Matt Logue and Alaynee March enjoyed hearing Perno speak.
"It was real good, and he does know a lot about how to get through life the right way," said Matt, 14.
Alaynee, 13, said Perno encouraged the students to "keep trying so you can become better."
Harlem Middle also held a celebration Friday. This assembly featured Harlem Middle graduates Amanda Glosson and Adam Nelson, Augusta State University men's basketball coach Dip Metress, paralympian Scott Winkler and music by the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band from Fort Gordon.
"This year we're about meeting challenges, setting high goals," principal Carla Shelton said after the assembly Thursday. "We are in training. We come to school every day ready to learn."
She said the school needs to build on its successes.
"Schools that do better are schools that have ceremonies and rituals and celebrations," said Shelton. "Most of all, we're making memories for the kids."
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