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Torrey Smith dedicates reading room at local high school

Turron Davenport | 9/26/2014, 6 a.m.
“You can’t control where you come from or your family situation, but you can control your future by making smart ...
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith accepts six Benjamin Franklin High School students into the “Community Service Ring of Honor” at the Reading Oasis Room that was dedicated at their school on Monday, September 22, 2014. (Courtesy Photo)

— “You can’t control where you come from or your family situation, but you can control your future by making smart decisions and furthering your education.”

Those are the words of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver, Torrey Smith painted on the wall of a reading room that the Torrey Smith Foundation in partnership with the PWC Charitable Foundation dedicated to Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore.

Smith says that the story at Benjamin Franklin High School is what made him select it as the location for the reading room dedication. The school has seen a vast turn around in academics and is now able to offer two Advanced Placement courses. The focus is on developing what school officials refer to as “Academic Pride.”

Many know Torrey Smith as a professional football player, but there is much more to him than that. He understands the big picture and knows that he has a responsibility to help his community. Football is simply a platform by which he can do so.

“I feel like it’s our responsibility to do this. People are always going to highlight the negative. Right now, there are probably four or five stories in the league that everyone is talking about. Today and Tuesday there are probably a hundred guys doing community service things but no one will talk about that, only the negative things. I am just proud to be one of the many good guys in the league who are helping the community,” Smith said.

Torrey Smith is a person who really gets it. He knows that his message is not relevant if he doesn’t practice what he actually preaches. That’s why he has taken on a new challenge— balancing his cell phone and a book.

“I’ve been talking to kids about reading and the importance of it and I have started to challenge myself. I’ve been reading [for recreation] now more than I ever have, whether it’s a self-help book or just something that helps me to learn how people become successful,” said Smith. “I understand that I have to continue reading and if I am going to preach to someone about how important it is to read, I need to do so myself.”

The last book Torrey Smith read is “21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” by John Maxwell.

Smith says the excitement young children have for reading needs to continue into high school because “better readers become better writers, better writers become better communicators, and better communicators become better leaders.”

Smith told the students to take advantage of the room because it’s a blessing and it is only going to help down the road when it’s time to get a job and enter the real world.

The reading room contains over 700 books and will serve 447 students at the high school. There are also electronic readers in the room. The room is referred to as a literacy oasis. It was made possible through a grant from the PWC Charitable Foundation. Barnes & Noble provided the books. Other sponsors include: Duron Paint Company; Creative Access; Scholastic and the Home Depot.