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Father's Day project deepens bonds

In The Classroom

June 20, 2006|By Michael Miller

He's only 9, but Michael Cage, Jr. knows how to play basketball like an NBA superstar. After all, he's got a first-rate instructor.

Michael's father ? Michael, Sr. ? played in the NBA for 15 years with the Los Angeles Clippers, Seattle Supersonics and three other teams. Since retiring from the game in 2000, he became a sportscaster for the Memphis Grizzlies ? and a coach to his son in his spare time.

"He shows me how to pass the ball between my legs and catch it with the other hand, and pass it behind my back to people," said Michael, a third-grader at Newport Coast Elementary School.

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Last week, the younger Cage was among many students in Stacy Bex's class assembling packages for Father's Day. In preparation for a celebration at the school on Friday, the students wrote poems, drew placemats and created "memory boxes" in tribute to their dads. Michael didn't have to think long about a design for his placemat; he drew a picture of his father on the basketball court, with the Supersonics logo in the center.

Every year, students in Bex's class and others create tributes to their parents for both Mother's Day and Father's Day. Last month, the students honored their mothers with scrapbooks and a luncheon on campus. A week before the end of the school year, the children paid a similar tribute to their fathers.

"I think it gives them that extra-special one-on-one time with their dads that they'll both appreciate," Bex said.

For the memory boxes, Bex got a donation of old cigar cases from High-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa and covered each one with masking tape and shoe polish. Inside, the students enclosed their interviews, poems and other items ? along with photos of their dads to cover the surgeon general's warning.

Bex also had students interview their fathers at home, providing the children with a list of questions and asking them to come up with others. In the interview process, some students learned things about their fathers that they hadn't known before. Kelsie Delaney, 8, found out that her dad was born in Montreal, and that she was half-Canadian.

In forming her own questions, Kelsie got creative:

Have you ever swam with a shark?

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