Kendall Demonstration Elementary School middle school students participated in the launch of a new student success program, “Stay In to Win,” on January 5. The hour-long launch event was a partnership between KDES and the Gallaudet University men’s and women’s basketball teams. Toni Killam, ’95, KDES health teacher, and David Spicer, ’05 & G-’07, transition counselor, will use supplemental Keys to Student Success resources during spring semester middle school health classes to fully implement the “Stay In to Win” program. Created in 2012 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, “Stay In to Win” focuses on five Keys to Student Success that help middle school students better understand how to become more successful in school and in life. The Gallaudet University men’s basketball team and KDES are among the 240 teams and 320 middle schools nationally who are participating in the program this year. Gallaudet head coach Kevin Kovacs, ’95 & G-’97, learned of the “Stay In to Win” program during the annual NABC convention, March 30-April 3, 2023, in Houston. Starting in October 2023, Kovacs met with Jessica Stultz, ’93, Director of Academic Programs at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School; and Albert Foderaro, NABC’s “Stay In to Win” coordinator, several times to discuss plans for establishing the program at KDES this year. Kovacs, Killam, and Spicer kicked off the January 5th program with a PowerPoint presentation that focused on making decisions to guide life choices. They highlighted the Five Keys to Student Success: Stay in school and graduate Create Success Teams and Success Plans Learn and practice an effective decision-making process Improve academic performance Focus on personal development Gallaudet basketball players all attended the launch event and will continue to be involved in the program this winter and spring. KDES staff, other than Killam and Spicer, also will use the inspirational “Stay In to Win” message about the Keys to Student Success to build upon KDES’s long-standing culture of student success. Kovacs said, “It was a great kick-off event. This was twofold as we understand how our student-athletes are role models to the younger generation. For them to try to encourage the younger kids to stay in school and create a game plan to succeed in life is also a reminder for our student-athletes to do the same. Our student-athletes had wonderful tips and ideas to share with the KDES students, and it was inspiring to see our student-athletes be able to give back to KDES. This was truly a win-win situation, and we look forward to coming back in April to check on each other's growth and progress.” Added Stevens, “‘Stay In to Win’ is an essential reminder that our current student-athletes are role models for our future student-athletes. Allowing us to present and be part of the KDES community allowed the younger ones to see and hear about what it takes to achieve daily goals and personal/team aspirations. Thank you to everyone who participated!” Says Stultz, “I am thrilled that we are partnering with the Gallaudet university athletic program by bringing the ‘Stay In to Win program’ to our middle school students at Kendall this year. It benefits them academically by promoting discipline and time management through structured activities while improving cognitive function and mood through physical activity. Through the support of the GU athletes who our middle school students look up to, the program teaches valuable life skills like leadership, teamwork and resilience which can enhance our students' academic performance and overall wellbeing. I want to thank the GU basketball teams and Albert Foderaro for helping us make this happen. Go Bison! Go Wildcats!” Visit the NABC website for more information about the “Stay In to Win” program. Photographs courtesy of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.