CBS Baltimore | Ravens Player Supports Local High School

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Nearly five years ago, it was on the verge of being shut down by the Baltimore City school district. After a lot of hard work, Benjamin Franklin High School has made a huge turnaround, even getting the support of one of the Ravens’ top players.

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Marcus Washington has more on the story.

Inside every school, you’ll find a lesson.

“Where we’re located, not many people even know of our school. We’re a very small school in south Baltimore,” said Principal Chris Battaglia.

At Benjamin Franklin High School, the lesson Monday was never give up.

“You know, reading is the foundation to everything: better students, better writers, better leaders and we’re looking forward to helping the future of this school and many others,” said Torrey Smith.

“The Torrey Smith Foundation reached out to us and said they wanted to do this. It was the perfect storm because of the focus on academic pride and the fact that we turned this school around,” Battaglia said.

In 2008, the school district slated to close the school but three years later, while on the chopping block in 2011, the school was revamped with a new principal and staff. Within three years, enrollment has doubled and students are making huge improvements.

Inside the Reading Ring of Honor, students have access to Nooks and the principal says it’s all part of what he calls academic pride.

“Sometimes they get so wrapped into `What’s my grade?’ as opposed to `How did I get that grade?’ We’re working on the habits to get that,” Battaglia said.

It shows that people care.

“In elementary school, you are all excited about reading Dr. Seuss books or whatever it may be. You get to high school and you don’t want to read anything outside of school. You just want to go and Tweet or go on Instagram to see what’s new but to have a place like [the reading center],” it’s going to be awesome for them,” Smith said.

“Reading books is a passion for me. I will just sit for two hours and just read,” said senior Jessica Wiest.

“It’s really a big honor. I really respect him for making this huge donation to our school,” said senior Julian Grimes.

This is the second reading room the Torrey Smith Foundation has helped established. The first was at Dickey Hill Elementary School.

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