NEW ORLEANS — Both the McDonogh 35 and Eleanor McMain basketball programs saw a pause to their season after a brawl broke out during their jamboree basketball game in November.

Since then, schools under the InspireNola Charter Schools umbrella shifted their focus from athletics to student safety.

InspireNola launched the NolaLove Initiative this fall to promote non-violence, academics, and community through several events and implemented those practices in the days following the incident.

“Since the incident, our students have come together through counseling sessions, mentoring sessions. They did a lot of community service. They’ve been following the initiative of NolaLove to understand not only how we can impact our schools but how we can impact our community,” says InspireNola CEO Jamar McKneeley. 

The work took place over a 45-day span, forcing game cancellations, but providing opportunities for the student bodies to come together and promote positive change.

“It’s bigger than basketball. It’s bigger than the city of New Orleans,” says McDonogh 35 Principal Lee Green.

“The kids made a mistake. All of us have made a mistake. But there’s consequences to your actions. So our kids, not only did the state provide a penalty, but Mr. (Jamar) McKneeley provided guidance in its change. And to make sure that the scholars grew from this and learned from this. They didn’t come back and play a game until January. So it allowed them to just reflect on it and grow from it. It showed all of the student body, not just McDonogh 35, but Edna Karr and McMain, that you will have consequences to your actions,” added Green.

McDonogh 35 and McMain agreed to replay their jamboree matchup Sunday afternoon under the banner of “Love and Reconciliation.”

Eleanor McMain won Sunday’s game by a final score of 55-33.