After a few months of intense work, the Nekwan Sprauve Memorial Basketball Court was officially dedicated to the young man in whose honor it was erected.
Friends, classmates and family members of the late Nekwan Sprauve gathered at the Gifft Hill School on Friday morning, September 17, for an emotional ceremony dedicating the basketball half-court in the young man’s honor.
Sprauve lost his long battle with sickle cell anemia on May 2, when he died a few months shy of his 16th birthday. Despite suffering from the genetic blood disorder for years, Sprauve never stopped enjoying life or touching the lives of those around him.
A member of the GHS flag football and basketball teams, Sprauve also played steel drum with the Love City Pan Dragons. After his death, school officials unanimously agreed that building a memorial basketball court and establishing a scholarship fund in his honor would be the perfect way to keep Sprauve’s memory alive.
“Any of you who are familiar with GHS will know that consensus doesn’t come easy for us,” said new GHS head Judy Chamberlin. “We celebrate each other’s differences and agreeing on something often takes time. Such was not the case with the Nekwan Sprauve Memorial Basketball Court.”
“There was unanimous agreement and the decision was made to go forward with the project and things happened very quickly,” said Chamberlin. “This is yet another example of Neko’s ability to bring out the best in everyone.”
The entire GHS Upper Campus student body gathered at the new basketball court along with Sprauve’s mother Brenda Sonson, brothers Nekwante Sprauve and Nekhori Sprauve and community members. GHS teacher Angel Bolques emceed the ceremony during which friends shared stories and read poems about Sprauve and played music in his honor — bringing most of the audience to tears.
GHS alumna Autumn Orlandini shared several personal and humorous stories about the young man and Sheniqua Davis read a touching poem about Sprauve titled “Best Friend” written by Kareem Albert.
Monique Edward and Nekhori Sprauve played a piece on steel pans and J’Keil Jacobs performed an original composition on keyboard in honor of Sprauve.
“Nekwan was a very fun person,” said Bolques. “He was quite the prankster and he was always smiling. He was just a really fun character.”
“He always pushed his limits and was always courageous,” Bolques said. “He was a very competitive basketball player and this is something that Nekwan would have loved to have at the school.”
Sprauve was also a talented steel pan player and was like a son to his teacher Love City Pan Dragons musical arranger Samuel Lawrence.
“I taught Neko how to play steel pan and he wasn’t like a player to me, he was like a son,” said Lawrence. “My wife still can’t believe he is gone, and neither can
I. He might be gone, but he is not forgotten.”
“His flesh has gone to the maker, but his spirit is here,” Lawrence said. “Rest in peace.”
Counselor Katie Cunningham, who worked with GHS students in the wake of Sprauve’s passing, is still available for anyone who needs her services, she explained
“This is a day of joy and celebration of Nekwan’s life,” said Cunningham. “But sometimes to get to that point, you have to go through a process of grief. I just want you to know there is a safe place if you need to talk.”
“If you’re heart is breaking, make it break open,” Cunningham quoted from the Dalai Lama, urging people to honor their feelings. “Honor Neko by honoring your feelings and honoring your grief,” she said.
Following the ceremony, Sprauve’s mother cut a ribbon around the court and thanked everyone for their support.
“Thank you all so, so much for all that you have done,” said Sonson. “Nekwan loved you all.”
Numerous people and businesses helped to make the Nekwan Sprauve Memorial Basketball Court a reality, including Andrew Barlas, Iowa State University, Iroquois Builders and GHS art teacher Rosemary Richards.
GHS officials continue to accept donations to the Nekwan Sprauve Memorial Scholarship Fund. To make a contribution to the scholarship fund established in Sprauve’s name, go to https://secure.netsolhost.com/giffthillschool.org/support_donate.html, or send a check to PO Box 1657, St. John, VI 00831.