Browns tight end Demetrius Harris stood at the front of the room and gave an impassioned speech to those in attendance.
Use the technology you're given. Set your alarms. Get to school.
Harris and fellow tight end David Njoku emphasized such points during a visit to Garfield Heights' Barack Obama Elementary School on Wednesday as part of the Browns' Get 2 School, Stay in the Game! initiative. The statewide program focuses on improving student attendance across all grades in order to better their chances of future success.
Harris didn't need to put on a front to get his point across. With hands clapping to drive home his statement, he told a group of students who are struggling with truancy and tardiness about the importance of school and how it can set them up for a future of success — or struggle.
"I was in the same shoes as kind of both of those groups," Harris explained afterward. "I kind of could relate to them and I kind of felt both groups' stories, so it was just a blessing for me to have the opportunity to do this."
At the crux of Harris' message was understanding and empathy for fellow students whose home life might be making school more difficult than usual. Support each other, Harris told the students, for you do not know what your fellow student might be enduring outside of school.
Larry Ogunjobi supported students as they head back to school by donating backpacks to Cleveland Metropolitan School District students in need. He visited Franklin D. Roosevelt School to distribute backpacks, Browns goodies and a hold a Q and A. Also, the Get 2 School, Stay in the Game! Network visited Barack Obama Elementary School. While at the school, David Njoku and Demetrius Harris recognized select students to congratulate them for showing exemplary or significantly improved attendance, as well as met with a group of students who could benefit from better attendance to help motivate them to get to school.
"You never know what they're going through at home," Harris said. "I knew a person that was a little kid, mom was on drugs and the little kid was getting ready for school and always late to class. I saw a situation like that and I knew a situation, you never know the situation, you've just got to know both sides. Like I told them, believe and know it. If they are going through that situation, just believe and know that you can get through it."
Njoku followed with a similar message before they both handed out notebooks and lunch bags for the students and then moved on to congratulate a group of students with perfect attendance. Those students received cameo appearances on the players' individual Instagram pages and were able to interact with the players before they departed through a tunnel of Obama Elementary students.
"Obviously they have great energy and they're very teachable," Njoku said. "So we made it our most important (priority) to come here and make sure that these kids are on the right path."
Earlier in the day, Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi did his part by donating backpacks to Cleveland Metropolitan School District students in need. Ogunjobi visited two classrooms at Franklin D. Roosevelt School to distribute backpacks, Browns goodies and topped it off with a pizza party.
The efforts made by the Browns are with the hopes they can contribute the necessary resources to improve the chances of success for at-risk students. The Browns work directly with CMSD schools to help solve problems and remove barriers of students being chronically absent from school, which is defined as missing 10 percent of a school year for any reason.
"It was very important. Nothing good comes about if you're not in school," Njoku said. "The more people we get here every single day, the better for everybody."