NORWALK, Conn. -- It was a slam dunk for the Ponus Ridge Middle School as NBA All-Star Ray Allen stopped by Friday to unveil a new computer lab donated to the school by his Ray of Hope Foundation .
The second-floor lab includes 20 computers and 10 laptops for students to use. The donation also included repainting the classroom, adding new furniture, and installing murals of Allen's time with the UConn Huskies, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Seattle Supersonics, the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.
"I'm always humbled to be able to walk into a school and see kids who are so excited to see you. But I'm not here to talk about basketball, I'm here to talk about education and I'm trying to inspire kids not only to be better in sports, but compete in the classroom just the same," Allen said.
"I really wanted to be here to donate this computer lab so kids have the measurable opportunity that other kids around the world have to be able to exceed and go to college."
With the unveiling, the total hits eight for the number of labs the Ray of Hope Foundation has donated. Three previous donations were in Hartford and four were in Boston.
The foundation began donating computer labs a few years ago after recognizing that many schools are not able to afford new technology, he said. By giving to schools, it gives students the opportunity to compete and be successful, Allen said.
Before unveiling the computer lab, students and parents gathered in the school auditorium for an assembly led by Allen. He talked about the importance of working hard, giving back to the community, not quitting and learning and growing from defeat.
"You can still win when you lose. Learning is the ultimate objective," Allen told the students. "We learn only through the adversity we go through in life when we lose."
"It's a huge investment in our school," said Ponus Ridge Principal Linda Sumpter. The school has two other labs that are used for computer classes, but the lab that allowed students to do research was small and wasn't always operational. "This will allow us to bring an entire class into the lab, allow students to work in teams and on different assignments, and extend their learning."
A small group of students went straight to work using the new computer lab after the assembly. They were divided into teams and used the new computers to research the teams and cities where Allen has played throughout his career. They then presented their findings after a brief lesson on public speaking by Allen's wife, Shannon Walker Williams.