Bruins Football Players Captivate Students with Stories as Rose Bowl, Legacy Foundation “Adopt” Cleveland Elementary School

UCLA football player Diamond Lee reads to the Cleveland Elementary School\'s 5th grade class. Pasadena Council Member Tyrone Hampton meets the UCLA football players.Cleveland Elementary School 4th and 5th graders.UCLA football players, Diamond Lee, Ryan Parks, Rahyme Johnson, and Joshua Wariboko-Alali.Cleveland Elementary School Principal Debra Lucas receives Pasadena Rose Bowl\'s Official School Adoption certificate.UCLA player Ryan Parks reads \Excited Cleveland Elementary School 4th and 5th graders.Cleveland Elementary students receive a 2017/2018 UCLA Athletics Poster.UCLA football player Joshua Wariboko-Alali chooses a book to read to students.Rahyme Johnson reads \Cleveland Elementary students receive a 2017/2018 UCLA Athletics Poster.Rahyme Johnson reads \The Hog Mollies books donated to Cleveland Elementary School.

By ANDY VITALICIO with BRANDON CROSS | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

6:20 am | February 8, 2018


UCLA Bruins football players visited Cleveland Elementary School Wednesday and captivated students with storytelling as they took part in a formal adoption ceremony in which the Rose Bowl and Legacy Foundation, the nonprofit organization which ensures private funding for stadium, announced they’re adopting Cleveland as “the school for the Rose Bowl Stadium.”

As such, Cleveland Elementary and its students get to enjoy a variety of programmed activities by the Rose Bowl and the Foundation, as well as those offered by Ohio-based Second and Seven Foundations that are primarily intended to enhance the students’ leadership growth in society, through high school and college and beyond.

“What’s special about the adoption is the message that it sends to our students,” Cleveland Elementary School Principal Debra Lucas said. “We are a caring community, and along with that caring, not only do we feel care for each other and kindness for each other, but we realize that outside of our walls, there are community members and partnerships that we build, for instance, of course, the Rose Bowl, which has been tremendous.”

In November, Cleveland students were invited to join an exclusive event at the Rose Bowl through the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation: the unveiling and dedication of the new Jackie Robinson statue, centered just outside of Rose Bowl Stadium in front of the iconic marquee.

The school has also been the recipient of a regular stipend that has helped assist in filling disaster preparedness kits for each student at Cleveland.

Aside from the four UCLA Bruins football players who read books for the students, Pasadena City Councilmember Tyron Hampton was at the adoption ceremony Wednesday, as were Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Brian McDonald, other PUSD officials, and staff from 2nd and 7 Foundation, which was founded by three former Ohio State University football players who, at one time or another, have played at the Rose Bowl during their careers.

Pasadena Unified Superintendent McDonald said even before the formal adoption by the Rose Bowl and Legacy Foundation, Cleveland Elementary students have been getting a “high level of support” from their community partners.

“Last school year, the students saw a 10 percentage point increase in how they perform in the English language arts portion of the state test. And to have this kind of partnership and celebration to really celebrate the student’s success is important,” McDonald said before the ceremony. “The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and UCLA donated 500 books to these students. There are football players here to read to the students and the message that this says is that reading is important. And so we just celebrate this partnership; we just thank these partners for their support and we’re looking forward to see this school continue to grow from strength to strength.”

Most of the books donated came from the 2nd and 7 Foundation and were about ethics, character building, leadership, teamwork, and collaboration, said Dedan Brozino, Executive Director of Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation.

With the formal adoption, Brozino said the Foundation hopes to find year-round synergies between Cleveland Elementary School and the Rose Bowl Stadium to collaborate assisting the students in their growth, both academically and from a leadership perspective, as a way of giving back to the community.

“The Rose Bowl Stadium has been so iconic over the last near 100 years and we’re taking that heritage and translating that into the inspiration that can really drive this next generation of students. That’s what we want to do,” Brozino said. “So we’re taking the energy and inspiration from all those years and translating that into this ‘adoption’ where we can really filter certain educational leadership programming through the staff here at Cleveland and try to impact these students. And if we can reach one or two students in this adoption, then it’s a good thing for us.”

Brozino added they’re glad to be partnering with the 2nd and 7 Foundation in the effort to assist Cleveland Elementary and develop among the students the traits that they need to be successful in society, in their future careers, and to “just be good citizens.”

Principal Lucas said with this adoption, they’ll be having a busy year at Cleveland and they’ll be inviting the community to come and see how the school and the students are performing.

“What’s coming up is we’ll be having a Jackie Robinson day in May because we didn’t know that he played all four sports – he played basketball, football, baseball, and he ran track,” Lucas said. “So we’re going to have a field day for Jackie Robinson day and the Rose Bowl is going to install a plaque above our cafetorium and we’re going to rename that building. It’s going to be huge. And it goes beyond the school. It’s a community because we wanted the community to know that this is their neighborhood school and we meet each child at the door where they are – socially, emotionally, academically, physically, everything. And we honor all cultures, we honor diversity, which is our strength. And so it’s who we are.”