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James Ford Rhodes High School Scores big With a New Score Board

Rhodes Score Board





Over 500 ardent Rams fans packed the gymnasium at CMSD's James F. Rhodes High School campus on Tuesday evening to watch Rhode’s basketball team host John Adams High School. There was another reason for the impressive turnout, which went well beyond a single game.

Ram Nation turned out in force to witness the unveiling of a $78,000 scoreboard that had been nearly two years in the planning.

In 2021, when CMSD schools were given the green light to return full-time to in-person learning, Rhode’s Principal Alyssa Starinsky (known to her students as Ms. Star) said something was noticeably off about the school. It didn't seem like the place that students and faculty left at the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Starinksy, the school had lost its vibe, and things didn't seem natural. The school looked for ways to recreate a sense of community and ways to reconnect the student body and staff.

"We tried many things, but it just didn't feel quite right," said Starinky.

"Then suddenly, at a basketball scrimmage, I looked around, and my teachers and kids were there, and so were our fans from the community.  It dawned on me that the sports arena was giving us something to cheer about again. It was like the Rams family had returned."

But the challenge was figuring out a sustainable way to breathe new life into the school.  After several productive meetings with Rhode’s staff members and alums, the ad hoc committee agreed that a new scoreboard would be a fitting way to recreate a sense of community. The old scoreboard was temperamental and only worked when it wanted to. Sometimes the score at games had to be recorded using flip cards, a scoring mechanism going back decades.

But scoreboards are expensive. With the initial quotes coming at around $100,000, the committee realized that the project would have to be a labor of love and earnest fund-raising. Eventually, the initial price quote was lowered by the manufacturer and Ram’s basketball coach Shawn Spencer was hand-picked by Principal Starinsky to lead the fundraising drive.

"I was able to partner with a few local businesses, such as hair salons and others in the community, to help pay for it," said Coach Spencer.

"The Alumni Association, along with alumni Mark Stepowoy, the largest donor, helped to bring us to the finish line," he added.


Mark Stepowoy, class of '78, gave a $25,000 donation toward the purchase of a new scoreboard.
Stepowoy, and Cynthia Anzalone-Fox, Rhode's High School alum president, attended the unveiling of the scoreboard.

Stepowoy, who graduated from Rhodes in 1978, and grew up in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn community, owns and operates several plumbing businesses throughout the Midwest. He lives in Medina but comes into the city often. The trip back for the unveiling of the new scoreboard was special.

"When I arrived at the school for the first time in 45 years, I walked the halls," he said.

"I'm 63 but being in this space made me feel 18 again. It almost felt like I was with my old classmates, but then reality set in, and I realized these children could be my grandchildren,” said Stepowoy, who contributed $25,000 to the purchase of the scoreboard.

“The scoreboard definitely contributes to the entertainment factor and adds another level of excitement for fans and players,” said Stepowoy.

“But the gift of the scoreboard isn't just to Rhodes; it's a gift to the community where the school resides as well as the city that contains both." 

Principal Starinsky said the scoreboard is more than a pricey piece of sporting equipment that will enhance the student experience for students, staff, and families. She said she sees the investment as the continuation of Rhode’s legacy.

“In many ways, this scoreboard is a tool that bridges the past and the present. Rhodes has gone from being a predominately white school to a predominately African-American school. Sports will prove to be an effective way to reengage our alumni as well as showcase the importance of Rhodes and how we have evolved.”

The Ram's debuted their new scoreboard by defeating John Adams by a final score of 59-35.