QB Terrelle Pryor played basketball with the students. Photo by Tony Gonzales
QB Terrelle Pryor spent time with the students of Barack Obama Academy – Seneca Center, an alternative education middle school, in Oakland, Calif. Pryor spoke to the students about the importance of choosing the right path, making good decisions and making education a priority. He also played football and basketball outside with the students, putting a smile on their faces.
Barack Obama Academy is considered a second-chance program. "The kids that we get here usually need additional academic support and behavior support," said Kimberly Wayne, School Director – Seneca Center. "We have classroom counselors in each of the classes, just offering kids support, more like redirection, positive praise, prompting to help them stay in class and get their work done. The kids that come to this school typically haven't done well in a larger middle school setting."
Wayne believed Pryor's presence had a big impact on the students. "He was great," said Wayne. "I think for a lot of these kids, they're sort of at a fork in the road and they might go down the wrong path, but that's part of why we're here, to help them choose to go down the right path. Some of the stuff that he talked about with them about making good choices and staying focused and staying in school and being around good people – I think that was a real important message for them, hearing that you get to pick who you're around. That was really positive."
Students joined Pryor during his TV interview at Barack Obama Academy. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Pryor's biggest message was what he calls the "10-second rule" – when you are put in adverse situations, you take 10 seconds to think about the consequences before you react; therefore, you are more likely to make a better decision. "When your first reaction is to hit back instead of doing the right thing, [you take 10 seconds]," explained Pryor. "Sometimes it takes a bigger man or woman to walk away."
Pryor explained that the decisions the students make will come back to affect them, whether it's in regard to how they treat others or what they do with their time. "People think it's cool to be on the streets and smoke and all that stuff, but I think the decisions you make, it ultimately comes back and can harm you," Pryor said to the students. "How many of you know people that like to be a bully? It's not cool though because later on in life you look back and you're like, geez, I was just in school with this kid and he's successful but I'm still at home and I can't find a job because one, I didn't finish school, and two, I just didn't really care about school and it wasn't important. Now you're looking back at it and it really was important."
After relaying many important messages, Pryor spent time playing football and basketball with the students. In a spirited game of touch football and then "knockout" on the basketball court, the teachers could see the positive impact Pryor was having. "It was great having him here and I can see that they're really enjoying him," said Wayne.
Pryor's main goal was to reach at least one of the students. "I like coming to talk to them because hopefully one of them or two of them or maybe all of them take my advice and turn it around whatever is going on," said Pryor. "They seemed excited. It seemed like I got to a couple of them so if I can get to a couple, my goal has been reached."
Pryor gets the students organized for a football drill. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Pryor also recently participated in a Gatorade Junior Training Camp at Cox Academy in Oakland. He helped run football drills and get the kids active for 60 minutes. "I was doing some drills with the kids and it was a great time," said Pryor. "It's just second nature to me, just having fun, acting like a little kid. So I had a great time going out there going through drills and working with them."
The second-year quarterback enjoys going into the community and giving back. "I just think a lot of kids, they're having so much misguidance. I think if someone positive comes around and just plays with them and has a smile and gives them a little word of wisdom, I think it's big because there's so much negativity going around in this world today. I'm just trying to do my part in changing it."
Pryor wants to show the Raider Nation that he appreciates them. "I think it's just giving back to the people that show their respect to us and all the fans that we have," said Pryor. "I think if we go out and, not only play on Sunday, but also as a person go out and work with their kids in the community, I just think it's a little bigger. They can appreciate that a lot, even more than playing on Sundays. It's the big picture."