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BUCKTOWN — Pulaski International School’s basketballs are so worn out that some have earned nicknames like “Mr. Velvet,” prompting educators at the Bucktown school to turn to the community for help with replacing the balls.
“These [basketballs] shouldn’t be so old,” said fifth-grader Angelo Verdin, who was one of about 22 athletes participating in an after-school basketball camp on Monday.
Camp coach Mark Battin, who also teaches physical education at the school, 2230 W. McClean Ave., refers to one ball as “Mr. Velvet” because the leather surface, once covered in tiny beads for a better grip, has been worn to a smooth texture.
Battin and the school’s other physical education teacher, Lee Schram, launched a Donors Choose crowdsourcing campaign to raise $1019 for 25 basketballs.
If the campaign reaches its goal by mid-May, then 25 leather basketballs will be bought and used for the boys seventh- and eighth-grade basketball team, though the balls will able be available to the younger children who take part in the informal after-school camp too, Battin said.
Mia Ballog, one of five girls at the camp, said “a lot of people complain” about the old basketballs.
“I think we need new ones,” Mia said.
Battin, who teaches fitness to fourth- through eighth-graders, and Schram, who instructs the school’s younger kids, share a budget of $500 to buy sports and fitness and equipment used by the 930 students at the school.
The student have a one-hour gym class every three days.
“This year’s budget was maxed out on [aerobic] steppers and kettle balls,” Battin said.
Both a neighborhood school and a regional gifted center for Spanish-speaking English language learners, Pulaski in 2014 became one of just seven elementary schools within the Chicago Public Schools system to offer an International Baccalaureate curriculum for students as young as preschool, a draw some parents believe has attracted more young families.
A student A A student shows off a worn basketball. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
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