Hours before the Sixers played the Raptors in Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center, a first-of-its-kind basketball game tipped off in the gym at Lincoln High School.
A group of Lincoln staff members on Thursday afternoon faced a team of 15th District police officers in two 20-minute halves. It had a big-game feel, with students filling the bleachers and performances by Lincoln cheerleaders.
The game was an attempt to bridge the gap between the students and the officers and build on the partnership the faculty has developed with the police department.
“We’re just trying to do something special for the kids and for the school,” said Lincoln climate manager Brian Garwood, who helped organize the game.
Capt. John Walker, commander of the 15th District, said he hopes the game helps humanize the officers in the eyes of the students.
“We’re trying to do something that can optimize building relationships,” he said.
Walker acknowledged that dismissal at Lincoln can be challenging. School District of Philadelphia spokesman Lee Whack said the high school has a strong climate support staff, and more are employed in that department than in years past.
Lincoln principal Jack Nelson said 99 percent of his students do what they’re supposed to do. Only a small portion of the student body causes trouble, and that’s what makes the news, he added.
The basketball game was a spirited affair, and one of the officers left the gym in a wheelchair due to an apparent leg or ankle injury. Lincoln staff won 45-35. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org