With the NBA playoffs soon down to the final two teams, get ready to watch some of tomorrow’s superstars show off their basketball skills at the LAX Classic Basketball Tournament over Memorial Day Weekend at Westchester High School and two other high schools out of our area.

The tournament is sponsored by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) — the City of Los Angeles agency that operates Los Angeles International Airport and other city-owned airports — in conjunction with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and will take place Saturday, May 28th, through Monday, May 30th.

The first round of games will begin each day at 9 a.m. and will feature some of the best and brightest young basketball players in the area. Admission is $5; $3 for five to 12 year olds and free for children under five.

“Some of the kids who have participated in our program in the past have gone on to Division I schools and even to the pros,” said program director Thaddeus McGrew.

“This is a very successful program for our community’s youth basketball players, but it has been even more exciting this year because of the support we have received from LAWA,” he added.

McGrew said the airport support means that athletes in the program can travel more extensively and the event can involve more players, particularly from the inner city.

“LAWA’s support has increased the value of our program,” he said.

The Memorial Day tournament will include more than 40 boys in teams of ten-year-olds and younger.

Teams for youths 14 years old and younger will follow in July with another tournament.

McGrew said the event will give young athletes the chance to play organized sports and perhaps even learn the skills necessary to succeed in college and beyond.

FRIENDS OF EDUCATION — For the 22nd year, the Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce recognized the outstanding contributions of teachers from local schools during the annual Teacher Eddy Awards Dinner, held Tuesday, May 17th, at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport. Teachers from elementary schools through the university level were acknowledged for their efforts in educating our young people.

More than 500 people were in attendance for the spectacular event, which also recognized the 2005 Friends of Education, selected from the business and education communities for their support of education in Westchester, Playa del Rey and Marina del Rey.

Those receiving the Friends of Education awards from the chamber included:

Tony Barthel, Sounds Like Fun;

Carol Treichel, volunteer, Playa del Rey Elementary;

Lorgia Ortega, volunteer, St. Bernard High School; and

Judith Ciancimino, community volunteer.

Each teacher received a crystal Eddy Award funded by Playa Vista. Other sponsors included Rotary Club of Westchester, Loyola Marymount University and The William H. Hannon Foundation.

ART AND AVIATION — The Westchester Family YMCA and LAX are continuing their collaboration to provide an instructional art class to middle school-aged youths in the community.

The YMCA and LAX are sponsoring “Art and Aviation,” led by comic book cartoonist David G. Brown.

The class meets twice a week at the YMCA and focuses on educational components such as aerodynamics and the roles of historical figures in flight, and combines them with the creative aspects of drawing and writing.

“Art and Aviation” is the second class to be introduced as part of the YArts program — a collection of enrichment classes for youths seven to 15 years old.

The first class, a creative writing class for middle school students titled “Writer’s Voice,” began earlier in the year.

“Students aren’t getting as much of the school-based enrichment programs as they used to,” said Christine Conradt, Westchester YMCA financial development associate.

“Music, art, drama, and foreign language classes are being removed from the curriculum because of budget concerns, but parents still want these classes for their kids.

“Bringing the YArts program to Westchester will increase opportunities for young people to experience these enrichment classes outside of school.”

The YMCA plans to introduce additional YArts classes in the upcoming months.

“Community partners, like LAX, are showing a great deal of enthusiasm in working with us to make this happen,” Conradt said. “They see the importance of exposing kids to arts as well.”

The Westchester Family YMCA is at 8015 Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester.

Information, Christine Conradt, (310) 670-4316 or

www.ymcala.org; under “Branches,” choose Westchester.

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