Houston Rockets: James Harden Speaks To High School Students In Alaska

By Michael Ma

Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed, NBA star James Harden, rapper Kendrick Lamar and MTV’s Sway greet “Graduate for Mas” teens as part of Get Schooled, Taco Bell and Viacom’s Bethel High School Celebration in Bethel, Alaska, on Friday, August 30, 2013.

The past week has been quite an adventure for Houston Rockets guard James Harden. After celebrating his 24th birthday on a boat last Monday, the star guard traveled to Bethel, Alaska, to become the principal of Bethel High School on Friday as a reward for the school after winning a national college-preparatory contest, and their persistence in pursuing the prize even after the contest had been won.

The contest was called The Future Forward Challenge for high school students across the nation to complete college admission experts, play educational-themed games, and to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

More than 60 percent of the Class of 2013 completed financial aid applications(40 percent per graduating class is the national average), and more than 80 percent applied to colleges or other post-secondary education programs, and more than half of the students are in college this fall. This was a remarkable accomplishment due to the fact that Bethel High School was also a place that was called a dropout factory in a widely reported 2007 statistical analysis by Johns Hopkins University. The label was given to schools where 60 percent or fewer students make it to their senior year.

In its effort to improve graduation rates, the school put an emphasis on pushing students to set goals beyond high school. When the school heard that the non-profit ‘Get Schooled’ organization (whose partners include MTV) held the 14-week national Future Forward Challenge contest early this year, Bethel High’s student body was primed for the task.


Harden was joined by Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed, MTV’s Sway, as well as rapper Kendrick Lamar.