600 local children enjoy UNO basketball field trip

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 16, 2019

NEW ORLEANS — This year was a record turnout for the University of New Orleans’ Educational Day, surpassing the 824 elementary students that were in attendance at the 1988 event.

This week, 921 students turned out, and close to 600 were from St. John the Baptist Parish Schools. In coordination with United Way and several community sponsors, Eliza Eugene with Blessed to Be a Blessing coordinated the educational field trip for every sixth grader in St. John Parish.

After taking a campus tour and exploring STEM-based activities, students were treated to a collegiate basketball game. The UNO women’s basketball team took on Pensacola Christian in the first home game of the season and emerged victorious 91-31. Children had a chance to interact with the college players at halftime and after the game, according to Eugene.

“They participated in a dance contest,” Eugene said. “After the game was over, all of the players came into the stands and took pictures with the kids and signed the back of their shirts. They were able to ask the players questions as well.”

UNO women’s basketball coach Keeshawn Carter Davenport helped coordinate the event, and she was honored last week with a Phenomenal Woman banquet at Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace. Davenport, who has been head coach for nine years, is a St. John Parish native and an East St. John alum.

Eugene said the event was “flawless” and offered much-needed exposure to inspire local children to reach for the stars.

“We had an excellent event,” Eugene said. “We have gotten great reviews from a couple of the principals to say the kids were just so excited about their experience. We are really happy that everything went according to plan, and the kids have a lot to think about now.”

A total of $2,709 was raised to make the field trip a cost-free experience for students and families, ensuring no one was left out. United Way donated $1,000 to cover expenses, which included securing 15 school buses.

Erica Merrick and Dominique Miller with the School Board and local schoolteacher Patrick Millet were instrumental to organizing the trip. The East St. John Alumni Association donated to the field trip in an effort spearheaded by Demetria Carter.

Every child had lunch at the facility and a take-home bag with a sandwich, chips, a snack and a drink. Meals for 600 children were made possible with donations from Walmart, Subway and Matherne’s.

“So many hands were on deck for this thing to come to pass,” Eugene said. “It was just unbelievable. This is what togetherness and unity looks like.”

Click to report corrections.