Paws makes special appearance at Harwood Elementary School

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published July 31, 2013

 Eleven-year-old Anton Berisha gives Paws a low-five when the Detroit Tigers mascot visited Harwood Elementary School in Sterling Heights July 25.

Eleven-year-old Anton Berisha gives Paws a low-five when the Detroit Tigers mascot visited Harwood Elementary School in Sterling Heights July 25.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

STERLING HEIGHTS — He wears the No. 13 jersey, stomps around in size 22 shoes and looks best in blue and orange.

Late the morning of July 25, students in this year’s Grand Slam Summer School cheered when Paws made a special appearance at Harwood Elementary School. The visit from the Detroit Tigers mascot marked the end of the Warren Consolidated Schools summer program.

Willow Woods Elementary second-grade teacher Jan Schwarb and Green Acres Elementary media specialist Jean Wenner helped welcome Paws. The mascot acted out the book “Casey At The Bat,” by  Ernest Thayer, as Wenner read the story aloud from the cafeteria stage. The kids looked on during the story, as did their parents, who were invited to the event — some capturing the moment with their iPads and digital cameras. Many in the crowd came dressed in Tigers shirts and hats.

Schwarb said the story was written more than 100 years ago and was printed “as a tiny blurb” in a newspaper. It’s also in the “Baseball Almanac.” “Casey At The Bat” tells the tale of a baseball team from the fictional town of Mudville that is losing by two runs with two outs in the game’s last inning. Everyone is relying on Casey to turn the game around, but does it happen?

Paws gave specific instructions to his audience before the story got under way. When he lifted his arms above his head, it was time to cheer. When he gave the “safe” sign used in baseball, it was time to quiet down. He also gave the proper cue for the kids to yell “boo.” As Wenner read, Paws showed several emotions and performed a number of moves that won the hearts of his audience. Afterward, he signed autographs and posed for pictures with the children, parents and teachers. Then it was time for a hot dog lunch.

Avid Detroit Tigers fan Leo Mitchell attended the event with grandchildren Darien Jacobsen, 10, and Paige Jacobsen, 8, who attend Willow Woods. They all got a kick out of Paws.

“He’s funny,” Paige said.

“He’s very active and he’s fun,” Darien said. “He’s the best mascot.”

Both watch baseball on TV  and have been to Comerica Park for a game.

“It was awesome,” Darien said.

Mitchell, who has been a “fan forever,” remembers the team’s World Series victories in both ’68 and ’84. If he had to pick a favorite player, it would be Al Kaline.

“Alan Trammell and Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame,” he said.

“It was pretty fun to meet Paws,” said Anton Berisha, 11, who attended with his mom, Izabela Berisha. “I have seen games, but I never got to meet anyone from the Detroit Tigers.”

Berisha will be a student at Carleton Middle School this fall. In Grand Slam, he said he learned math, vocabulary, prefixes and suffixes.

A visit from Paws also brought out Camille Favazza and her children, Olivia Favazza, 9, of Willow Woods, and son Dominic Favazza, 13. The family, including dad Jim Favazza, are huge Tigers fans. Last year, Dominic and Jim met Prince Fielder at a local business.

“I watch every game,” Dominic said. The family also attends about five to six games per year. Fielder and Miguel Cabrera are Olivia and Dominic’s favorite players. At last week’s event, Olivia won a Detroit Tigers face mask for correctly answering the trivia question that asked where the team plays: Comerica Park in Detroit.

The Grand Slam Summer School program covered reading, writing, math and enrichment for students entering second through sixth grade this fall.

“Our goal was for them to maintain the (academic) level they were at,” Summer School Principal Corey Tremmel said. “It was designed to provide reinforcement and intervention, and support the reading and math strategies they learned in the classroom.”

Grand Slam began July 1, and included 14 instructional days. The summer program, held 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday, was open to students from throughout WCS.

On average, 135 students attended, and there was no cost. There were two teachers per 18-22 students. The teachers came from the elementary and middle school level, and also from the special education department.