Basketball coach, principal hopes to prepare students for life after HS

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NEWARK -

A Newark high school basketball coach and principal says that his wish is to prepare his students for life after school.

Newark West Side High school Principal Akbar Cook coached the boys basketball team for five years and is in his first year as principal.

Cook started a free laundromat at the school for students to clean their clothes. He says that he noticed that some students were not coming to school because their clothes were dirty and they couldn’t wash them at home.

Cook’s program caught the attention of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and Cook was presented with a check for $50,000. He says that in the three months since he appeared on the show, more donations have come through.

RELATED: Newark principal awarded $50K for his free laundry program 

"I've done a lot of great things and I'm glad my kids are getting noticed for something positive and not always the negative,” Cook says.

Cook has been coaching the basketball team since the team was in second grade. He says that he has to protect his students.

"It's my job to get them into college and make sure that they’re prepared for college, so I didn't want to leave them,” he says.

The 42-year-old coach says that he would like to see his team named New Jersey’s No. 1 basketball program. But he says that his main responsibility is to get the kids ready for life after high school and basketball.

Cook also established the Lights On program, a program to give youth a place to hang out at night that keeps them out of trouble.

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