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Snacks by Luci Manning
MAY
27

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  May 27, 2015

By Luci Manning

Bridging the Generation Gap with Chess (Wall Street Journal, New York)

Teenagers and senior citizens are learning to play chess together at Dorot, a Jewish social services agency on the Upper West Side. Inspired by his chess-based friendship with 91-year-old Herman Bomze, 14-year-old Zach Targoff donated his bar mitzvah money to fund the program, paying for staff, refreshments, transportation for the seniors, and chess equipment and training. The players meet once a week after school during the year, and many of them continue to play throughout the summer. “Teens go to seniors’ homes and bring the chessboard with them,” Dorot’s director of volunteer services Judith Turner told the Wall Street Journal. “We were so amazed by the outpouring of interest.”

Knitting Club Teaches Students Fun Skills and Helping Others (Pickerington Times-Sun, Ohio)

For years, Denise Yauch has been a fixture at Tussing Elementary School – she could always be seen knitting at a number of her grandson’s school programs. Last year, she decided to spread her love of knitting to a new generation by hosting an afterschool program that encourages students to keep up with their classwork, improves teamwork and socialization and teaches them a lifelong skill. “To watch them grow from, ‘I don’t know how to hold a needle,’ to casting on has been a delight,” she told the Pickerington Times-Sun. Almost 50 third- and fourth-grade girls meet three times a week to learn basic knitting techniques and create scarves, blankets and much more.

‘Fab Five’ Kids with Water App Idea Raise $51,000 (Fresno Bee, California)

Thanks to five tech-savvy elementary school students, Fresno residents may soon be able to receive real-time updates about their water usage to their computers or smart phones. The students first thought up the water-saving app as part of their FIRST Lego League robotics competition project, an afterschool program that requires participants to come up with a project that could positively impact society. After pitching the idea to a crowd of parents, business and city leaders, the students raised $51,000 to fund the development of the app that could be ready by September. “We didn’t really think it was going to happen. It might do some good if it did, but (we thought) we’d never get the funding or someone to do it,” eleven-year-old Jeffrey told the Fresno Bee. “Now we get to be part of it and learn how coders do things.”

Afterschool Program Helps Kids Stay Out of Trouble (KWWL, Iowa)

‘Dare to be King,’ an afterschool program at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, is trying to curb violence in Waterloo. The program gives kids a safe space to relax, talk about life and learn how to avoid or mitigate dangerous situations. “I like that they teach you to make the right decision when you’re getting stopped by the police or in a bad situation,” participant Camren Montgomery told KWWL. Program organizer Felecia Carter says one of the most important missions of the group is to prevent students from getting involved in local gangs. “I wish I could help everybody, but I know that if other churches open up their door and allow organizations to come in and hold programs, that will be so much more of a positive outcome,” she said.

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MAY
20

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  May 20, 2015

By Luci Manning

Kids and Yoga Make for Relaxing Combination at Showell (Delmarva Now, Maryland)

An afterschool yoga class at Showell elementary is improving student wellness and helping kids unwind after a long day in the classroom. During the 50-minute class, pre-kindergarten teacher Amy Braciszewski leads students through a variety of poses, teaching them each pose’s Sanskrit name along the way. Assistant principal Joshua Hamborsky thinks the afterschool program is teaching kids a good way to work through their problems. “It’s not fluff,” he told Delmarva Now. “The course offers powerful breathing, thinking and mental exercises to help students cope with anxiety and stresses.”

Kids Learn Fitness, Life Skills from Circus Staff (Bloomington Pantagraph, Illinois)

Twenty-three Cedar Ridge Elementary School students participated in a unique physical education class last week when Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus performers visited their afterschool program. A clown taught them about healthy eating and several other performers, including a dancer and four unicyclists, taught them to juggle, hula hoop and jump rope. “CircusFit is designed to get kids moving and show that exercise can be fun,” Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey’s Jillian Kaplan told the Bloomington Pantagraph. “Hula-hooping and jumping rope are everyday skills that children can become proficient at instead of sitting and playing video games.” Students even got a bit of a performance from the King Charles Unicycle Troupe, who shot hoops and jumped rope while on their unicycles.

Students Design Prosthetics, Compete for First Place at Oregon MESA Day (Oregonian, Oregon)

At the 15th annual Oregon MESA Day Middle and High School Engineering and Science competition, more than 350 students showed off the inventions they had created that year through their STEM-based afterschool program. Oregon MESA (Mathematics Engineers Science Achievement) targets students typically underrepresented in STEM fields, pairing them with mentors who help them develop projects to present at the year-end competition. One group of students from Franklin High created a prosthetic arm out of cardboard tubes, clamps, metal tongs and rubber bands, which they used to pick up and move items and fasten screws to a wooden board. “My touchstone is just watching the kids go crazy,” MESA board chair Kevin Bell told the Oregonian. “They walk away basically believing ‘I can do this.’ It’s contagious.”

MDC Students Mentor Children through Literacy Program (Miami Herald, Florida)

With the help of mentors from Miami Dade College (MDC), seven-year-old Diana Arellano wrote a story about reuniting with her sister in Mexico and ten-year-old Joan Espinosa created an action-packed graphic novel about superheroes, the Miami Herald reports. The students are part of Pages for All Ages, an afterschool literacy program for students from the large population of migrant farm workers and low-income families living in South Miami Dade. Each semester, kids are matched with MDC students who help them improve their reading and writing skills. The stories they create are then hardbound and displayed at the college library. 

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MAY
13

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  May 13, 2015

By Luci Manning

Teaching Science (and More) Through Bunnies (New York Times, New York)

The Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) provides low-cost community programs for Spanish-speaking families in Long Island, including a weekly afterschool program called Ciencia en CMEE. Leah Oppenheimer, a social worker who works in the afterschool program, told the New York Times that Long Island’s Latino families “constitute a large, underserved population when it comes to education and culture,” and that CMEE hopes to fill the gap of available programs. Ciencia (“science” in Spanish) creatively weaves together a variety of subjects in its sessions. This week, the topic was bunny rabbits. The class explored the biological differences between European hares and New World cottontails, discussed how rabbits were introduced to Australia from Europe and created bunny-themed artwork.

Can Gaming Become an Interscholastic Sport? (Indianapolis Star, Indiana)

Video games are often a solitary activity, but Kerwin Rent hopes to gather isolated gamers with afterschool gaming clubs at Indianapolis schools. The games in Rent’s programs include sports, auto racing and fighting, no shooting games or extreme violence, and in order to qualify for city championships students also have to complete educational online exercises, including essays about technology. Rent hopes video gaming can offer a niche for students who don’t want to participate in sports or music and teach them about tech careers. “These are the kids who will build our software applications and solutions on the tech side in the future,” he told the Indianapolis Star.

Class Goes to the Dogs (Siskiyou Daily News, California)

A 6-foot-tall, 120 pound Malamute/shepherd mix named Bandit is helping children who have trouble reading. Every Wednesday, Bandit sits and listens while struggling readers and students with behavioral issues in the Safe After School Program read him stories. SAFE teacher Dawn Wallace said she’s already noticed drastic changes for students in just four months – kids with behavioral problems are increasingly kind to Bandit, and her students are growing more enthusiastic about reading. “He’s a very attentive audience for a child that is struggling,” she told the Siskiyou Daily News. “He’s a nonjudgmental party that the children can just be with.”

YES Students Planning Fundraiser for the Homeless (New Britain Herald, Connecticut)

Students in the Vance Elementary School Youth Enrichment and Sports (YES) afterschool program recently held a community pasta dinner to raise money to support New Britain’s homeless population. The YES program includes homework help, wellness instruction, sports activities and even acting lessons, but the core of the program is a “random act of kindness project,” which each participating school selected at the beginning of the year. Vance students chose to learn more about the homeless population and, after six months researching the issue of homelessness, sponsored a fundraiser for a local church to help with supplies for the weekly dinners they provide to the area homeless. “YES is important because our kids realize that doing good for others makes you feel good,” school district extended day programs facilitator Nancy Puglisi told the New Britain Herald.

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MAY
6

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  May 6, 2015

By Luci Manning

Texas Kids Need More After-School Options (TribTalk, Texas)

Andy Roddick, a former professional tennis player, and Molly Clayton, executive director of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time, advocated for more state funding for afterschool programs in TribTalk: “Over 935,000 Texas schoolchildren are unsupervised in the critical hours after school… But despite continually unmet demand and positive academic outcomes, current public and private investments in after-school and summer programs are simply not enough. Federal funding for these programs, which is already unable to meet the growing demand, is at risk. Local governments and private philanthropy have been working to fill in gaps, but they can’t do it alone. The state of Texas has a much bigger role to play in ensuring that these programs are available, affordable and high quality.”

School Gardens Sprout in Central San Joaquin Valley (Fresno Bee, California)

Visalia Unified School District launched Growbiotics, an afterschool gardening program, last fall, and it’s already so popular that most of its 25 elementary schools have waiting lists. Each child gets one square foot of the garden, where it is their responsibility to plant seeds and seedlings, remove weeds, water the plants and harvest what they grow. They also regularly measure and record air and ground temperature. In the fall the students grow broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, spinach and beets, and spring gardens include squash, carrots, tomatoes, herbs, eggplants and lettuce. “I like how we can all come together and plant and harvest stuff,” fifth-grader Faith Bither told the Fresno Bee. “You can learn and do something fun.”

St. Paul Students Explore Jazz in Mobile After-School Program (St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesota)

The Mobile Jazz afterschool program is introducing students to jazz. At the twice-weekly program, 80 middle and high school students get a lesson from local professional musicians then break into smaller, concentrated groups – poets and songwriters, instrumentalists, singers and dancers, and those interested in audio production and the technical side of music. Students performed for their peers and the community at the culminating exhibition last week. Program creator Andrew Fischer said he hopes to give kids a place where their creativity can flow freely. “These little people need a safe environment to come out, to express themselves,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press

YWCA Children Go on Mother’s Day Shopping Spree (Deseret News, Utah)

Mother’s Day can be a hard time for women in domestic violence shelters, but a YWCA afterschool program and the nonprofit Women’s Edge are doing what they can to help. Nearly 40 students in the afterschool program participated in an all-expenses-paid Mother’s Day shopping spree Monday. Each child was paired with a Women’s Edge hostess, who helped the children find gifts for their moms and adhere to the $50 per mother budget. Kids selected bags, books, dresses and jewelry at marked-down prices, taking care to consider their moms’ favorite colors. “It’s cool to see how selfless kids can be,” Fred Meyers Jewelers sales associate Clark Henrikson told Deseret News. “They’re so excited to be able to be so generous.” 

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APR
29

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  April 29, 2015

By Luci Manning

Save the Children Leads Charge to Protect Kids (Newport Plain Talk, Tennessee)

Each day, 68 million children are away from their parents in school or child care, and yet less than half of American families have an emergency plan or a way to reunite if a disaster were to occur. To fill this gap, Save the Children made disaster preparedness a priority at their Edgemont afterschool program through the Get Ready Get Safe Prep Rally last week. Throughout the week, students learned how they can help their families prepare for emergencies through practical lessons and discussions paired with fun and engaging activities, like the Disaster Supplies Relay Race and Emergency Mad Libs. A Family Night was held at the end of the week, where children shared what they had learned with their parents. “The Prep Rally program makes disasters less scary by giving children the tools they need to prepare and be ready,” afterschool teacher Crystal Chambers told Newport Plain Talk.

A New Twist on the Old Lemonade Stand (Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico)

An afterschool program is using the age-old lemonade stand concept to teach kids how to start and run a business, according to the Albuquerque Journal. About 250 kids from Albuquerque elementary schools will set up dozens of lemonade stands throughout the city on Lemonade Day, May 2. The Rio Grande Collaborative, which runs the Albuquerque branch of the national program, provides students the entrepreneurial curriculum, and then it’s up to the kids to find an investor – usually their parents – and use the money to buy ingredients, make the lemonade and run their sales stand. Kids have to keep track of all their expenses and pay back their investors, just like in the real business world.

Dormont After-School Program Blends Art, Movement (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania)

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the nonprofit Art Expression Inc. have teamed up to create an afterschool program focused on the intersection of visual arts, rhythm and movement. Each session of the free six-week program, called “ARTS in Motion,” combines music, dance and visual arts in activities that share a common theme. In a recent session, students made a collage about their feelings then acted out those feelings to a drum beat. The program aims to increase students’ self-esteem, enhance their social skills and improve their self-expression abilities. “We think the combination of what Art Expression can bring in terms of emotional well-being and what we (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre) can bring in terms of physical well-being is really exciting,” PBT manager of community programs Lisa Auel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

City May Restore Rec Center Hours (San Diego Union-Tribune, California)

San Diego’s neighborhood recreation centers saw their hours cut significantly between 2003 and 2012, but under Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s new budget proposal, many of those hours may be restored. The budget would increase the weekly hours of the city’s 16 busiest recreation centers from 45 to 60. The rec centers are a hub of activity – hosting youth sports leagues, enrichment classes for preschoolers and senior fitness classes – but many supporters believe the centers’ afterschool programs are what really make a difference. “Recreation centers are particularly important in communities where there aren’t Boys & Girls Clubs and families can’t afford things like YMCAs,” Councilman David Alvarez told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Our rec centers are really the only place for young people to be active during after-school hours and have a safe place to play.” 

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APR
22

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  April 22, 2015

By Luci Manning

STEM’s Goal: Attract Girls (Daily News, New York)

Fifty girls at Energy Tech High School are getting free lessons in computer coding through the new Women in STEM (Win STEM) afterschool program. Girls who volunteer for WinSTEM classes learn about coding through hands-on coursework in robotics. Despite significant barriers for females in the tech world, the WinSTEM participants are determined to make a difference. “There are not enough women in STEM,” Energy Tech sophomore Linda Alvarado told the Daily News. “It’s rare, but I’m hoping to change it.” WinSTEM is funded through a $20,000 grant from Verizon.

Walpole Grade Schoolers Will Cross Marathon Finish Line (Walpole Times, Massachusetts)

Students from more than eight Boston communities crossed Boston Marathon finish line this weekend as part of the 19th annual Boston Athletic Association (BAA) Relay Challenge. Youngsters from the running clubs ran different legs along the Boston Marathon route, a culmination of weeks of training. The running programs for elementary and middle school students teach the proper form and technique for running, along with important life skills and healthy habits. “I liked learning about the basics of running and nutrition,” Bird Middle School seventh-grader Sarah St. George told the Walpole Times. “I also learned that running can be fun.”

180 Degrees Program Finds Success in Turning Lives Around (Kansas City Star, Missouri)

An afterschool program in the Kansas City School District is helping put at-risk students back on track. The pilot program, 180 Degrees, serves middle and high school students struggling with truancy and academic issues. For three hours a day, four days a week, students receive homework assistance and dinner and learn lessons on personal accountability, responsibility and good decision making. “This program is for students who need a push in the right direction,” program coordinator Max Mendoza told the Kansas City Star. “Some may be on the verge of being expelled from school or are on the way to juvenile detention. This program provides another option.”

Mermaid-Themed Running Club Encourages Girls to Swim Upstream (Sacramento Bee, California)

Low-income girls in Sacramento are learning about teamwork and boosting their self-confidence through the Mini Mermaid Running Club. The afterschool program helps young girls embrace positive feelings about themselves through fitness, community service and healthy eating. The program is run by teachers, parents and community members and is currently in place at six Sacramento area schools. Program founder Heidi Boynton said she started the club because she believed that fitness and girl-powered camaraderie could help young women see their self-worth. Marriage and family therapist Susie Morgan, who helped develop the Mini Mermaid curriculum, agrees. “Having healthy movement in your life as well as healthy practices, and being in a group of women that support one another, all those things are extremely valuable in developing a core sense of self,” she told the Sacramento Bee.

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APR
15

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  April 15, 2015

By Luci Manning

Students Showcase Robotic Creations for Medical Use (Bristol Press, Connecticut)

At this year’s Bristol Middle School Robotics Challenge, themed “Med-Bots: Robot Transfer, Transport and Transplant,” teams of fifth through eighth graders in afterschool robotics clubs programmed robots to perform heart transplant surgery, guide an ambulance to pick up a patient, and move patients in a hospital to the appropriate departments. The students worked through trial and error to guide their robots through mazes and to perform surgery simulations. Although they didn’t always succeed the first time, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Northeast Middle School technology teacher Vince Jennetta. “In engineering terms failure is an important thing, but how you work through it – that’s how you get the grit and determination,” he told the Bristol Press.

Circle de Luz Helps Latina Girls Aim Toward College (Charlotte Observer, North Carolina)

Circle de Luz, a mentoring program in Charlotte, is trying to reverse the trend of Latina high school dropouts. Each year, the program selects a group of middle school girls who need assistance and continues mentoring them throughout high school with monthly in-school and afterschool programs. The activities include art and educational enrichment, as well as life skills like cooking, financial literacy and health and wellness. Circle de Luz also aims to inspire Latina students to head to college by pairing the girls with adult mentors who guide them the application process. Program manager Mary Kathryn Elkins told the Charlotte Observer that it is a six-year process that begins with “teaching (the girls) what college is and then having them believe it can be part of their future.”

Education Program Spreads Love of Music (Visalia Times-Delta, California)

A 12-week afterschool program is teaching violin to 25 second graders at Woodville School – very slowly. It wasn’t until week four that the students even got to hold an actual violin. They had been spending nearly two hours every day learning rhythm with clapping and egg shakers, singing to learn notes, and exploring the parts of the violin on blue “paper violins.” The Tulare County Symphony HEARTstrings afterschool program aims to reach rural children who rarely get a chance to play music. “The goal is not merely musical skills, but life skills,” Tulare County Symphony music director Bruce Kiesling told the Visalia Times-Delta.

Chess Club Benefits Students (Philadelphia Daily News, Pennsylvania)

When science and math teacher Jason Bui started the Minor Threats chess club, he – and the students who joined – had no idea that chess would have such an impact on their minds, their attitudes and their families. Bui said the members have gained increased focus, enhanced confidence and mended temperaments, and many of them have improved their academic performance. Chess teaches the kids to handle defeat and find solutions to problems. “[Chess] helped me to interact more at school,” 11-year-old Tahvon, who described himself as “not the nicest person” before he joined the club, told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’m still a little to myself, but I’m getting better with it. Chess is helping me more.” 

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8

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  April 8, 2015

By Luci Manning

Thorp Discovery Lab Learns Drums (Ellensburg Daily Record, Washington)

Each Thursday, ten students from kindergarten to fifth grade learn to play half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes on an upside-down bucket. Afterwards, they move onto body drumming, which includes foot stomping, shoulder slapping, clapping and tap dancing. The students take classes four days a week through Discovery Lab at Thorp School, an afterschool program focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). According to Discovery Lab founder Tosha Woods, the art component is crucial. “Studies show art is incredibly important and supports all of STEM,” she told the Ellensburg Daily Record.

A New Kitchen and Organic Garden to Teach Healthy Cooking (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Students in the twice-weekly afterschool cooking class at Philadelphia Montessori Charter School recently learned to prepare baked chicken wings with potatoes, carrots and parsnips as an alternative to less-healthy fast food. They trimmed and separated the wings, washed and sliced the potatoes and prepared a marinade. Most of the students signed up for the class to learn to eat healthier or help around the kitchen at home. “I want to express myself through cooking and have people enjoy what I cook,” 11-year-old Beinushi Jean-Pierre told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the next few months, the school is building an upgraded teaching kitchen to house the program and planting an organic garden for the students to tend.

Newton’s Attic Teaches Kids Engineering through Hands-on Fun and Games (Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky)

Bill Cloyd was inspired to become a mechanical engineer through his childhood of building go karts and mini bikes from spare parts. Now, the former high school physics teacher runs Newton’s Attic, a five-acre facility that offers summer, spring break and afterschool classes that allows kids to learn engineering, physics and technology by creating their own toys. Last week, kids ages six to 18 were using a giant catapult to hurl pumpkins, building and flying drones, creating robots and learning about gravitational force by riding an enormous bungee-powered roller coaster. “The whole idea is fun with physics,” Cloyd’s wife Dawn told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Play is the ultimate learning tool.” 

Cabrillo High Launches Ivy League Mentorship Program (Long Beach Press-Telegram, California)

Cabrillo High School recently began an afterschool program called Reach to the Stars, which aims to generate student interest in attending Ivy League schools and other top universities. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the program “organizes visits from industry leaders in science, technology, literature and the arts to the West Long Beach campus.” One recent guest was MIT alum John Underkoffler, who spoke to the students about how technology is used in films. Underkoffler has been a science and technology advisor on films such as “Minority Report,” “Hulk” and “Iron Man.”

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