NJ teacher surprises students with Sixers' tickets

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Friday, March 2, 2018
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NJ teacher surprises students with Sixers' tickets. Alicia Vitarelli reports during Action News at 4:30 p.m. on March 2, 2018.

WASHINGTON TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- This is a story that is evoking almost every emotion and it's playing out in an 11th-grade class at Washington Township High School in New Jersey.

It started with grief and then turned to compassion then joy, and now gratitude.

Action News was there Friday morning when a teacher surprised his students to thank them for the love they've shown him.

This was the moment that had people clicking love and sharing online.

Matt Groark, a health and physical ed teacher is breaking down when he finds out how his second-period class came together to lift his spirits.

Matt and his wife received heartbreaking news, though they have two healthy baby boys, they recently suffered the 5th miscarriage in 7 years.

"We went to our 17-week ultrasound and didn't get a heartbeat and our world kind of crashed," he said.

Groark says he was open and honest with his students

He said, "We spent a day talking about it and they let me be upset and do what I had to do."

Then two students also decided to do something.

Evan Chu, a junior said, "You could see how upset he was so Tina and I decided to do something nice and once we mentioned it, money started coming from everywhere."

The class raised money to send Mr. Groark and his wife, Kristin, to a Sixers game.

Groark said, "And I opened it up and the tickets were cool, I love the Sixers but what they wrote was heartfelt. They wrote -'We want to show our thanks for teaching us. Keep your head up even when life hits rock bottom.'"

He continued, "And to come from juniors in high school - 16 and 17-year olds. As a parent and what's going on in this world, it was amazing to see young adults show that kind of compassion an empathy."

Trying to find a way to thank them, Mr. Groark also took to social media and through donors and a few contacts was able to make this surprise announcement.

"You gotta go get some sixers gear because the Sixers are giving you 22 tickets to come to the game," Groark said.

He says this is about celebrating true teamwork and compassion.

"Our story is a tough one but this is about their reaction to seeing me hurt

And sad on the most simple human level and wanted to make me happy," Groark added.

And today we just found out that the Sixers have upped that to 30 tickets and someone offered a balcony suite for some chaperones.

The game is March 13. They all call this an experience they will never forget and certainly one of life's greatest teaching lessons.


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