ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A new sense of pride is taking over Rochester City School District’s Franklin campus and the reason for it is the campus’ new track and synthetic turf football field.
“It’s a new experience for all the kids that haven’t played on turf,” eighth grade student Wilson Santana said.
On Wednesday evening, students, faculty, school administrators, community members and members of the Buffalo Bills staff came together to celebrate the renovation.
“The big thing with sports here in Rochester or just across the country, is it’s a tool to motivate our young men and women academically,” said Carlos Cotto Jr., RCSD health, physical education and athletics executive director. “So we look to balance that and make sure that our young men and women are focusing in the classroom so they can benefit from what we have out here in the community.”
After five years of planning, Cotto said this is the third Rochester City School District school that has received a turf field. A $200,000 donation from the Buffalo Bills and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation through the NFL Grassroots Grant helped pay for it.
“All of our fields in this community service not just our high school programs, they service also our community,” Cotto said. “We’ve got youth football, youth soccer, youth track and field and we’re looking to continue to strengthen the collaboration within this community with all of our programs, looking at the adults, as mentors and leaders and role models for these young men and women so they can start moving in the right direction or continue moving in the right direction.”
The complex is named after Trent Jackson, a local sports hero and coach. His family was also in attendance. Jackson’s son Trenton Jackson Jr. said his father had a deep love for Franklin and he believes this renovation will help spur others to feel that way too.
“With me, I want kids to find out what pride really is so they can find out once they graduate they still have pride for their school, like many people did in the past and a lot of alumni needs to come together so we can show the kids what pride really is,” Jackson said. “By this new complex coming and people coming I hope that we can bring pride to the kids and they understand how important it is to have faith and pride in your school.”
One student said a change in attitude around the school and community is already evident.
“When people hear Franklin it’s always a negative conversation, but now I feel like we got a new field, something new, something for somebody to talk about [in a positive way],” junior student Israel Cuavas said.
Cotto said three years ago the East High School received a turf field. Wilson Foundation Academy also had a turf field put in this year as well.