March 15, 2018

Black Panther and Eliza A. Baker

SURPRISE SCREENING — Several students from Eliza A. Blaker School 55 took a moment to pose in front of the “Black Panther” poster inside Landmark Glendale 12 on March 15 before the free, private screening hosted by Indiana Fever player Erlana Larkins. More than 90 students and a few chaperones from Eliza Blaker attended. Below, Erlana Larkins is a power forward for the Indiana Fever.

Students from Eliza A. Blaker School 55 enjoyed a free screening of “Black Panther” on Wednesday morning, thanks to their new friend: Erlana Larkins!

The Indiana Fever power forward hosted the movie for nearly 90 students (and a few chaperones) at Landmark Glendale 12.

Erlana Larkins

Before the film started, Larkins appeared on screen via video to greet students and staff with special instructions for them to enjoy “Black Panther,” which, to date, has a worldwide box office total of $1.12 billion.

Larkins couldn’t attend the screening in person because she’s still overseas playing basketball in Turkey. She’ll soon return to Indiana to prepare for the 2018 Indiana Fever season — which kicks off May 19.

The free film screening is just one of the ways Larkins wanted to show the IPS students that people in the community care about them.

“The idea to see ‘Black Panther’ came up during a conversation between me and my business manager. We were thinking of ways that I can give back to the community,” said Larkins. “We felt that ‘Black Panther’ would be great for the kids to see because of its educational values and messages.”

Eliza Blaker students were honored Larkins chose them and their school.

“It kind of made me feel special because (she) chose my school to go see the movie when (she) could have chosen any other school, said sixth-grader Ziharha J., 12.

Even though 12-year-old sixth-grader Jayquez B. had already seen the film, he was more than happy to watch it again. “I was very excited to find out that we were going to see the movie because I get to understand it more.”

Larkins is touched by the students’ responses.

“Hearing that students felt special because I chose their school makes me smile, gives me joy and makes me feel appreciated and thankful that I’m able to give back to the community. It’s important to do things of this nature to show kids that there are people who care about them and want to help them succeed,” said Larkins.

After the film, several of the chaperones (including Eliza Blaker teachers and staff) mentioned they were surprised to see how the movie captured students’ attention. Several noted that the kids hadn’t been that quiet all week.

Eliza Blaker Principal Jean Ely said the movie wasn’t just entertaining to her students, but also representative.

“The cast and production of the film are representative of the scholars we serve at Eliza Blaker. It’s important for our scholars to see people who look like them in a positive light and to have a super hero that they can relate to,” said Ely. “I (also) wanted them to know that Erlana understands the importance of giving back. This was an excellent week to tie giving back in with our kindness challenge (at school).”

Larkins purposely choose to give back to IPS students because she can relate to those in public school systems. While growing up in Florida, Larkins said she attended public schools through her seventh-grade year. “I wanted to give the kids an opportunity that I didn’t have coming up in Florida,” she said.

In addition to the film screening, Larkins also announced to students that she’ll soon kickoff her inaugural book club for Eliza Blaker third-graders.

“The decision to do a book club was a no-brainer,” said Larkins. “Reading is very essential and educational, therefore I created the Read 2 Be Great book club. Not only will the program be educational, it will also be fun for students based on the books, their reading levels and students being able to choose the types of books they like to read.”

The number 2 in the book club’s title represents Larkins’ jersey number with the Indiana Fever.