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Academy students participate in new basketball league

CLEVELAND — After seeing the success of Woodland Academy’s basket program for sixth- through eighth-graders last year, the school’s assistant administrator, Larry Burt, thought other charter schools could also benefit from the program.

“The reason we wanted to start a program for both girls and boys in sixth through eighth grades was so our students would learn self-discipline, responsibility, a sense of work ethic and how to build positive relationships with peers, families and the community through sports,” he said. “These are imperative life skills as well as a part of our core values within The Academies.”

Burt said the birth of the Greater Cleveland Charter League was initiated this year with the help of FunGame sports (, headed by Executive Director Chris Walker and CEO Ozell Dobbins. Besides Woodland Academy, other schools involved are HOPE Academy West, Broadway Academy, HOPE Academy East and a few other local charters.

“The hope is that it will continue to grow, and it is proven to have that potential as other schools have contacted me with future plans of playing,” Burt said. “My involvement with this program is just simply having the idea of ‘a league of our own’ and some initial leg work. Woodland Administrator Gretchen Beasley and other administrators were very receptive to the idea. Ms. Beasley is, in my opinion, the league’s biggest advocate. She is here with me assisting in any capacity to ensure a safe, secure and smooth operation of each game.”

The schools in the Greater Cleveland Charter League play games like any school league, with the season starting playoffs mid April. The games are currently being played at two locations because of gym accessibility — Woodland Academy and Broadway Academy. Games are played every Wednesday starting with the girls at 5:15 p.m. followed by the boys at 6:15 p.m.

“The response has been good in terms of crowd turnout,” Burt said. “We have found that we are seeing some of the parents attending the games that we typically would not see during academic-related functions.”

Burt said the program that was implemented at Woodland is called “Work to Play,” where the student athletes have to carry a green folder around at all times so at anytime, any staff member may check to see that student athlete’s academic progress and eligibility.

“The teachers use this as an opportunity to communicate with parents of their student athletes,” he said. “This is the second year we have implemented a sports program, however, this is the first year we have created our own league making it a more ‘polished product’ tailored for our schools.”

For more information about The Academies, visit
If you’re interested in learning more about the Greater Cleveland Charter League and would like to interview Woodland Academy Assistant Administrator Larry Burt, he can be reached at or 216-721-6909.

For more information on The Academies, contact Maggie Ford, chief academic officer at White Hat Management, at 330-535-6868 or

About the Academies:

The Academies are tuition-free community schools in Ohio providing a safe, disciplined and nurturing learning environment for students in kindergarten through eighth grades. Currently, there are 14 academies throughout Ohio -- in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown. The Academies are a haven for parents caught between frustration with traditional public schools and the expense of private schools. When a child comes to The Academies, he or she enters a safe, clean, positive and caring environment built on respect. The Academies are committed to helping parents and children overcome obstacles so students can reach their full academic potential. For more information about The Academies, visit

About White Hat Management

White Hat Management contracts and assists nonprofit corporations that hold charters or see a need for a charter school in their community. White Hat Management operates 33 schools in three states under the auspices of two separate educational ventures. The Academies are tuition-free and are open to students in grades K-8 throughout the state of Ohio. Life Skills Centers are alternative education charter schools serving students between the ages of 16 and 21 in Ohio, Colorado and Arizona.

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