School leaders, celebrities aim to keep students on track during surprise assembly

Students were surprised by guests including Mike Epps and Myles Turner at Thursday's assembly. (WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Students at Shortridge High School had no idea about their surprise guests who encouraged them about making the "right play in life."

That’s the title of a series of forums that kicked off in the Circle City Thursday afternoon at one of Indy’s well-known high schools.

After his own introduction, community activist Amp Harris surprised the Shortridge student body with special guests to kick off a new program called "Making The Right Play In Life."

The goal of the program is to inspire teens through a panel discussion and interactions on a variety of topics, including good decision-making, positive self-image and the importance of getting an education. The panel will include professional athletes, actors, community leaders, business owners and young adults who will share their personal stories of overcoming challenges to achieve success. After each presentation, students will have the opportunity to ask questions and get advice from the speakers.

“We are trying to get to the children who are just like us and who are growing up in the same neighborhoods,” said Amp Harris. He introduced his guests, who received loud applause.

“Make some noise for your homeboy, Mr. Mike Epps,” said Harris to the crowd during the assembly.

Actor-comedian Mike Epps joined IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson and one of their classmates for a panel discussion about doing their best in school. They shared personal experiences and hurdles they’ve had to jump to get to success.

Then shortly after the assembly started and after fighting traffic, another celebrity joined the panel on stage.

Indiana Pacers star Myles Turner joined the panel and shared the fact that he is just five years older than some of the students in the auditorium. He explained the tough decisions he had to make as a student and as a professional athlete.

“We have to show them you're successful. You made it out of the same stage they were in. They will listen to someone like that," Turner said.

“The students have to love themselves more than anything,” said Epps, “Making the right play is something that is mandatory for our children to do."

The assembly at Shortridge is the first of its kind and organizers hope to expand it to other schools. Harris plans to reach out to more celebrities, hoping to get students' attention and keep as many as possible on the right track.