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At the William Penn Block and Tackle Express club's annual hall of fame induction ceremony Saturday morning, York City School District superintendent Deborah Wortham made clear her intention to ensure sports, arts and music remain integral parts of the district's future.

Those activities were on the chopping block two weeks ago, when the district put forth a proposed budget that would have eliminated all "non-mandatory" activities at William Penn High School. This week, the district announced it would be able to save arts, music and some sports for the upcoming school year.

Speaking at the Yorktowne Hotel on Saturday, Wortham said an extracurricular activity like sports "makes the district hum."

"It’s the synergy and the energy and the motivating force that gives people a reason to put it all together. It is absolutely the glue. So if you want to know where my heart is, there it is."

Not long after Wortham made that statement, William Penn junior Kelvin Nieves took to the podium. Nieves was a running back on the football team last season.

When he was almost done his speech, Nieves turned to Wortham and made a plea that she commit to saving sports. "That's my way out," Nieves said.

Wortham got up from her chair and went back to the microphone.

"I want to restore confidence," Wortham said to the crowd. "There can't be a budget cut so deep as to make young people nervous. That's not what life is about. So with your help, we can go on the record to say sports are here. Let's keep it here. Let's not put this stress on our young people. Can you stand with me on that?"

In response, the entire crowd stood an applauded.

After the program, I asked Nieves about his plea.

"I’ve been holding it in since last season, since I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors that we weren’t going to keep football," Nieves said. "I’m glad I got a chance to tell her how I felt."

Nieves added that if not for sports, "I would probably on the streets doing something I really didn’t want to do. I’d probably be in jail or even worse dead. ... That’s the only way I have to get out of York."

For more on the BT Express ceremony, the club's new fund raising initiative and on keynote speaker Chris Doleman, head here.

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