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Fifth-grader Shaan Patel Understands Teamwork
Fifth-grader Shaan Patel Understands Teamwork

Essay for local contest earns "Coach for a Day" experience with Princeton University Men's Basketball Team

PDS Director of Security Rob Toole alerted 5th Grade to a local essay contest sponsored by the Princeton Police Department, Princeton University Department of Public Safety and Princeton University Athletics. The "Coach for a Day" contest, which was open to all 5th graders who attend schools located in Princeton, asked for student-written essays on "why teamwork is important." Shaan Patel took up the challenge and was declared Runner-Up!

"We particularly liked how you described what teamwork means to you and how you describe your family as a team. As Police Officers we rely on teamwork every day and see the benefits in working with colleagues to keep communities safe," stated
Sgt. Fred Williams and Patrolman Shahid Abdul-Karim of the Princeton Police and Sgt. Sean Ryder of the Princeton University Dept. of Public Safety in a congratulatory letter to Shaan.

"Teamwork is the most important part of life," Shaan wrote in his essay. "My mom and dad say that our family is a team and a team is never against each other so that's why we have to be kind and respectful to one another."

Along with Anna, the essay contest winner, Shaan was invited to help coach the Princeton University Men's Basketball Team with Head Coach Mitch Henderson at Jadwin Gym. Shaan helped Coach Henderson with practice drills, devising plays and communicating with the team. The team camaraderie was particularly special, as was time spent with Sgt. Ryder and Sgt. Williams, who spoke with both Shaan and Anna about their essays and the value of teamwork. "I think Coach Henderson was quite impressed with Shaan's 'off court exhibition play!'" quipped Sgt. Ryder afterward. In addition, the essayists and their families were invited later that week to the February 22 Princeton-Cornell home basketball game, where Shaan and Anna were acknowledged and presented with a signed game ball by Sgt. Ryder, Sgt. Williams and Ptl. Abdul-Karim during a spectacular halftime ceremony.

Congratulations, Shaan!

Photo above: PDS fifth-grader Shaan Patel and fellow essay winner Anna with Sgt. Ryder (PUDPS) and Sgt. Williams (PPD). Photo below: Essay winners Shaan and Anna with the Princeton University Basketball Team at Jadwin Gym.

- Melanie Shaw