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Student-Athletes Making Germantown Better One Project at a Time

The Seneca Valley High School football team has a reputation for doing great things —winning 12 state championships, the most state championships in the history of the state of Maryland. And as most football players know, it is doing the little things right that leads to greatness. For some Seneca Valley athletes, the little things include good footwork, being early for practice, off-season workouts, and reading to a class of kindergartners. It is that last one that sets members of the ACE Project apart from other athletes.

Last week a few players on the team visited Capt. James E. Daly Elementary School in Germantown to read to two classes of delighted kindergarten children. But it’s all in a day’s work for students who take part in The ACE Project.

Started by Screaming Eagles assistant football Coach Ali Hashemzadeh last year, The ACE Project stands for Athletes for Community Excellence. It is a grassroots organization centered in Germantown with a desire to better the community with the help of students and student-athletes.

It came to be when Hashemzadeh saw how easy it was for students to stray from the good path and use their time unwisely and in the midst of dangerous situations.

“I started The ACE Project because all too often we are faced with the negatives, especially as of late, within our Germantown community,” said Hashemzadeh. “Between the ongoing news of violence and drugs in our community, it is, unfortunately, real easy for our local youth to take the wrong turn. I am hoping The ACE Project can provide and instill some civic responsibility, maturity, accountability, and teach them to be respectful citizens in the community.”

As a Seneca Valley graduate, Hashemzadeh wanted to focus the efforts in the community he grew up. The ACE Project has tackled community events and has strived to help everyone they can. Last weekend, students were volunteering at the Roberto Clemente Middle School 5k Run, they sat in a town hall meeting about Germantown Youth and Violence, the group volunteered their muscle at beautification projects at Clopper Mille Elementary School, and even read to kindergarten classes at Daly Elementary School.

“The students loved it,” said Daly Principal Nora Dietz. “They were such good role models for them. The children and staff asked me when can they come back? So, they definitely left a lasting impression.”