Students work (and play) on brand new computers during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Students work (and play) on brand new computers during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

After their NBA Finals Game 1 win Thursday, the San Antonio Spurs continued to show their support for the Eastside community and San Antonio schools Friday afternoon.

There was a game day feeling to the occasion as the Spurs Coyote along with the Silver Stars spurred the gathering to pre-game excitement. Spurs players Jeff Ayres, Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter were on hand to interact with students and teachers. Coach Greg Popovich also was in attendance as well as former Spurs George Gervin and Bruce Bowen. The NBA Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy was on display adding to the atmosphere of excellence that this Legacy Project brings.

The Spurs Coyote and the Silver Dancers pump up the crowd before a press conference announcing a new Spur-sponsored Learn and Play Center at Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
The Spurs Coyote and the Silver Dancers pump up the crowd before a press conference announcing a new Spur-sponsored Learn and Play Center at Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

At a press conference held at Bowden Elementary School the Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SS&E), through the NBA Cares Legacy Project, dedicated another Learn and Play Center as part of the NBA Finals.

The center includes a makeover of the school library space and significant technology donations from Samsung like televisions, computers, printers, and tablets. Construction assistance was provided from Lowe’s. Other partners for this project include State Farm Insurance and United Way.

With the Spurs in the NBA Finals this year the Legacy Project at Bowden takes on a special dimension, especially after the Spurs won their first game of the Finals series. The immediate feeling around the school was electric and full of excitement as the Spurs players made their way among the students and teachers.

Tiago Splitter helps students explore brand new tablets after a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Tiago Splitter helps students explore brand new tablets after a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

Located in the Dignowity Hill neighborhood, Bowden Elementary is named after Artemisia Bowden. an African-American educator and civic leader. She was the first president of what is now St. Philip’s College in San Antonio.

The school is part of San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) and serves over 500 students. Many of the students at Bowden are from relatively low-income families. For teachers and students alike this gift from the Spurs is pure gold – or perhaps better yet, pure Silver and Black.

Bowden Elementary teachers Sara Kanear, Yvette Sanchez, and Jenny Spain pose for a photo during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Bowden Elementary teachers Sara Kanear, Yvette Sanchez, and Jenny Spain pose for a photo during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

Teachers Sara Kanear, Yvette Sanchez, and Jenny Spain all echoed that the renovation of the library space and the added technology capabilities will go far in helping students enhance their reading and computer skills. Beyond that, the teachers were all in agreement that this project will generate pride in the students for the school and boosting morale because they now have tools that were only a distant wish.

Bowden Principal Guadalupe Diaz poses for a photo during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Bowden Principal Guadalupe Diaz poses for a photo during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

Principal Guadalupe Diaz will be moving on at the end of this term but expressed joy that she will be leaving the school with enhanced capabilities.

Students like 5th-grader Mary Jo Armas were beside themselves with excitement for being in the midst of their basketball heroes. When asked how the new computers and tablets will help her with learning she was quick to point out that the new computers will help with research for her studies.

For the community the gift represents a much needed boost in terms of access to literacy tools for students and families in the neighborhood. Bowden will now have enhanced capabilities to positively impact educational outcomes like improving literacy, a skill set that often effected by poverty.

SS&E has a strong connection to the Eastside and has gotten behind other projects that are aimed at impacting educational outcomes.

The Spurs organization initiated a literacy project during the annual Spurs Rodeo Road Trip in February 2013. Called the Spurs Read Trip, it focused on reading skills and literacy in the feeder pattern schools for Sam Houston High School. Spurs staff delivered books to six elementary schools and two middle schools, reading to students, designing and installing Little Free Libraries throughout the community and assisting in writing short stories.

Mary Jo Armas poses for a photo in front of a brand new computer during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Mary Jo Armas poses for a photo in front of a brand new computer during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

Bowden is one of the schools that benefited from the Spurs Read Trip and is now the proud recipient of a Play and Learn Center.

According to Laura Dixon, executive director of community responsibility for SS&E, the NBA Cares initiative is the stimulus behind the Bowden Legacy Project.

Spurs Coach Greg Popovich plays cards with Bowden Elementary School students after a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Spurs Coach Greg Popovich plays cards with Bowden Elementary School students after a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Former Spur Bruce Bowen and current player Jeff Ayres read to Bowden Elementary School students during a press conference announcing a new Spur-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.
Former Spur Bruce Bowen and current player Jeff Ayres read to Bowden Elementary School students during a press conference announcing a new Spur-sponsored Learn and Play Center at the school on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

The NBA Cares is the league’s global initiative aimed at addressing issues in education, youth and family development, health and wellness. This is the second Learn and Play Center to be dedicated on the Eastside, the first was opened at Wheatley Middle School, another Eastside school, last year.

Just as all of San Antonio is rooting for the Spurs to win another NBA Championship, the Spurs through their commitment to improving educational outcomes are rooting for Bowden’s students and families to be winners in education and learning. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver commented this kind of project is “high impact.”  For Bowden Elementary and the surrounding neighborhood the impact will be real.

*Featured/top image: Students work (and play) on brand new computers during a press conference announcing a new NBA-sponsored Learn and Play Center at Bowden Elementary School on June 6, 2014. Photo by Juan Garcia.

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Juan Garcia

Juan A. Garcia currently works part time for Select Federal Credit Union doing business and community development. Juan "retired" from an executive position in healthcare in 2013. Juan is active in Eastside...