Nashoba Publishing/Bob WhitakerYoung students attempt to steal a ball from Harlem Wizard Ken "Blenda" Rodriguez.
Nashoba Publishing/Bob Whitaker Young students attempt to steal a ball from Harlem Wizard Ken "Blenda" Rodriguez.

Staff report

AYER -- Page Hilltop Elementary School volunteers took on the Harlem Wizards in a fundraising basketball match for the Parent Teacher Organization, raising $2,000.

With more than 500 people in attendance, faculty, parents and members of the community got together to cheer on their favorite players for a kid-friendly, exciting event that turned out to the be one of the biggest fundraisers of the year.

Page Hilltop Principal Fred Deppe said this year was the busiest the event has been in the three times that the Harlem Wizards have come to play.

"This is one of my favorite school events because it brings together all members of the school community -- teachers, students, parents and community members," Deppe said. "It allows teachers and parents to connect on a different level and provides students an opportunity to see their teachers in a different light. The members of the Harlem Wizards organization have a singular goal -- to leave the crowd smiling and laughing."

The Wizards provide entertainment, engaging the audience and doing tricks throughout the game.

"My favorite part of the Wizards game was when I got my basketball signed because they were telling jokes and took a picture with me," student Shannon said.

"I liked it when the Wizards were playing tricks, slam-dunking the basketball and spinning the basketball on one finger," another student, Kenny, said.

This was the second time fifth-grade teacher Mike Pulizzi played in the fundraiser and says it was just as enjoyable as last time.


"It's a fun experience," he said. "It's a family event and you get to see the children and their parents having a good time."

As several teachers played on the team of 16 against the Wizards, some parents also got the opportunity to play through winning a raffle the school conducted.

"I thought for a night that the Red Sox World Series was about to start, we had a really great turnout," Page Hilltop school counselor Betsy Dolan said.

The Harlem Wizards are from New Jersey and have traveling teams that go to schools and facilities for entertainment and fundraising events. The game was organized by the PTO and sponsored by the Holiday Inn in Boxborough.

Deppe said the money raised will go back to the PTO school funds to support general activities like field trips, cultural events, playground upgrades and student and faculty needs.

As far as who won the game, "I like to think that we all won," Deppe said. "Our school team will be ready to take on the Wizards again!"