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FEB
10

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 10, 2016

By Luci Manning

Kirn Students Learn Nuts, Bolts of Cybersecurity through Club (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

An afterschool club at Kirn Middle School is allowing students to explore a potential career path while learning how to protect themselves online. The Air Force Association’s Cyber Patriot program teaches students the basics of cybersecurity by having them practice on simulated “virtual machines” with pre-programmed security flaws for them to detect and solve. The hands-on experience gives students a valuable opportunity to learn by doing, according to guest speaker Anthony Kava, an information technology supervisor and information security officer for Pottawattamie County’s government. “The students’ enthusiasm, and how they seem to soak up complex knowledge so quickly, has made the experience extremely rewarding,” he told the Daily Nonpareil.

Pascack Valley Students Build Interest in Robotics (NorthJersey.com, New Jersey)

The New Jersey education commissioner and other state officials recently received a visit from a high school robotics team hoping to build more STEM-based afterschool programs in underserved districts across the state. The Pascack Valley Regional High School District Pi-oneers met with the officials to explain the value of their program, show off some of the robots they have built and discuss potential funding and corporate partnership options. “We would like to extend the experiences we have had to places where afterschool mentor-based programs do not yet exist,” high school senior and co-CEO of the Pi-oneers Alexandra Capodicasa told NorthJeresy.com.

An Out of This World After School Program Connects Kids with Outer Space (WPSD, Illinois)

Kids in the space-based Astra afterschool program went on a virtual journey through the solar system last week thanks to Engineer Kristina Larson from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Larson spoke to the Carterville Intermediate School students about her work on the Dawn Mission, which explored dwarf planets in the Asteroid Belt. According to WPSD, talking with a real life rocket scientist made the kids want to work in outer space when they grow up. Astra gives students the chance to learn about all things space by building rockets, meeting astronauts and more.

Meeting the Needs of Kids in the U.S. Who Fled Violence in Central America (Youth Today, California)

Child refugees in the U.S. face a lot of challenges, but one afterschool program in San Francisco is trying to make their transition just a bit easier. Refugee Transitions operates in two high schools serving a large Central American immigrant population, providing academic assistance, enrichment activities, home-based tutoring, health care and, most importantly, a safe and supportive place to be after school. Nearly 100 students take part in the program each day. According to program coordinator Joyce Arellano-Bravo, the enrichment activities, which range from yoga to disc jockeying, are particularly helpful for students trying to acclimate to their new life because “you learn English by doing,” she told Youth Today.

FEB
3

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: February 3, 2016

By Luci Manning

Students Get Young Peers Excited About Science Through Outreach Programs (Wesleyan Argus, Connecticut)

Middletown elementary students are gazing through telescopes, designing galaxies and making crystals thanks to two programs run by the Wesleyan University astronomy department that aim to make science fun for young students. Wesleyan students write lesson plans and run the afterschool Kids Korner at five elementary schools in the area, expanding children’s interest in science. “The most rewarding part about being involved with the program is watching the elementary school kids’ faces light up when they learn something new,” club co-coordinator Madeleine Junkins told the Wesleyan Argus.

Raytheon Helps Afterschool Club Members Discover Physics of Fun at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Arena (Frisco Enterprise, Texas)

Three hundred Boys & Girls Club members recently learned how math and physics affect the basketball skills of their favorite professional players. Employees from defense contractor Raytheon used basketballs to demonstrate different science lessons to students and let them show off their physical prowess. They discussed how air pressure affects the buoyancy of a basketball, compared their heights and wingspans with those of several Dallas Mavericks players and tested their leaping abilities. Raytheon hoped the event would show students how important science is to everyday life. “Music, sports – there’s math and science in everything you love to do,” senior community relations manager Kim Parks told the Frisco Enterprise. Raytheon’s eight North Texas locations have supported area Boys & Girls Clubs with Engineering Week events and other volunteer activities.

Lessons in Learning: Aloha Angels Funds Almost 50 After-School Programs Districtwide (Garden Island, Hawaii)

Several years ago, Koloa Elementary Schools stopped receiving government funding for afterschool programs. Thanks to Aloha Angels, this year they were able to offer 15 programs, including ukulele band, art and cooking. Aloha Angels, a nonprofit that raises funds to support teachers and students, turned its attention to afterschool a few years ago and has since raised $334,000 to help fund programs throughout the school district. “The organization started funding afterschool programs in 2014 after Sherry Gonsalves, principal at Kilauea Elementary School, emphasized the importance of needing an outlet for students to learn subjects like art, music and sports, which are not taught during the school day, said Ric Cox, president of Aloha Angles,” the Garden Island reports. Now six different schools offer at least five programs, each emphasizing the mentoring relationships between teachers and students.

Afterschool Program at Centennial Farm Earns an Award (Los Angeles Times, California)

The California Park and Recreation Society recently recognized the Ranch Afterschool Program, an initiative of Costa Mesa’s Parks and Community Services Department that provides students with hands-on farming experience. According to the Los Angeles Times, the program teaches students agricultural techniques and how to care for farm animals, even maintaining a portion of the farm’s land. “Agricultural education helps children learn about healthy food choices and teaches them different ways to access fresh fruits and vegetables,” city spokesman Tony Dodero said. “Most importantly, students begin to understand the deep impact agriculture has in their lives: past, future and present.” 

JAN
28

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 28, 2016

By Luci Manning

College Classes for Middle School Students? It’s Happening in Hayward (EdSource, California)

Middle school students in Hayward are studying anthropology, sociology, engineering and music after school – and earning college credit for their efforts. The district has partnered with Chabot College, a community college in Hayward, to offer courses at five area middle schools. Hayward may be the only middle school in California – or the country – to reach out to younger students. The primary purpose of the program is to expose middle school students to college work and show that they are college material. “Administrators in the district say that many of their students have no relatives or friends who have gone to college and are in danger of thinking or being told that college is not for them,” reports EdSource

Tutor Helps Student Get Back to ‘A’ Level (Chicago Sun Times, Illinois)

Former math teacher Andrea Morgan is going above and beyond the call of duty as a tutor and mentor with the Chicago Lights Tutoring program. Her weekly one-on-one after school tutoring sessions with 17-year-old Zaria Greenlee turned into regular hang-outs for the pair. They cook dinner, shop for school supplies and even visit colleges together. The program pairs tutors with 400 students of all ages from underprivileged neighborhoods on Chicago’s Near North Side and West Side, and while many of these relationships extend beyond the walls of the classroom, Zaria and Morgan have formed a uniquely strong bond. “She’s more than a tutor to me – she’s like my best friend,” Zaria told the Chicago Sun Times.

SFA Partnering with Children in Nature to Encourage Kids to Get Outdoors More (KTRE, Texas)

While many of their peers stay inside and play video games, children in the Nacogdoches Boys & Girls Club are learning to cook outdoors and carry backpacks, thanks to a partnership with Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA). The afterschool outdoor education program is part of a Texas Children in Nature Network statewide initiative, a partnership of 300 organizations (including SFA) that aim to connect children and parents to the natural world. “In 2009, a bipartisan group got together and said this is really important that we need to get more kids and families interacting with nature,” state coordinator Jennifer Bristol told KTRE.

The Science of Food, Taught Peer to Peer (Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Pennsylvania)

Kids often don’t listen when their parents tell them to eat their vegetables, but one program in Philadelphia is proving that they may listen to their peers. Nonprofit Greener Partners, which works to increase access to fresh food, trains high school students to be Food Youth Leaders, tasking them with building lesson plans and running afterschool programs that promote gardening, farming and healthy eating. One such leader, high school junior Lacretia Jefferson, currently runs a food science course at Girard College, where she puts together fun nutrition-based activities and healthy cooking lessons for a group of high school students. “I think young people talking and learning from other young people is the best way to get them to understand,” she told the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. “I like showing other kids that if they can learn about something like a new vegetable, they can come to like it.”

JAN
20

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 20, 2016

By Luci Manning

Lafayette Woman Creates Diverse Library for Youths (Associated Press, Indiana)

Minority children don’t often see themselves represented in children’s books, but one librarian hopes to change that through diversity-focused afterschool and summer learning programs at an innovative new library. Cindy Eberts’ library, known as the Eberts Memorial Library, has collected about 300 books by minority authors and featuring a diverse cast of characters, which play heavily into its academic programs. The afterschool program, run by the Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM), hopes to both help close the achievement gap and give students a safe space to discuss race-related issues. “Given the many race-related problems in our nation… a place for children to learn about tolerance and diversity, on a regular basis, is a wonderful antidote,” LUM executive director Joe Mincon told the Associated Press.

Study Weighs Youth Service Programs (Corning Leader, New York)

A recent study highlighted the value of Steuben County’s youth service programs, which offer fun activities, nutritious food and academic assistance that students might not otherwise receive. For local afterschool providers, the value of their programs is already obvious. “I think we’re lucky to have the afterschool time programs,” Corning Area Youth Center director Carly Cushing told the Corning Leader. “The work we do serves more children, and that’s really the important thing.” The study, which came out of the Steuben County Youth Bureau, listed four programs as critical to the community: out-of-school time, seasonal recreational activities, youth leadership and empowerment opportunities and substance abuse treatment services.

‘Girls Rock Philly’ Helps Females Find Their Vibe (Philadelphia Daily News, Pennsylvania)

A Philadelphia nonprofit afterschool program is using music to empower young ladies. At Girls Rock Philly, students learn an instrument, form a band and write an original song together, which they perform for their peers at the end of the semester. Throughout the 30-week program, the girls use acting, singing and noise improvisation to become more confident and learn how to manage stress. “Being a young girl in the world is very hard,” program director Diane Foglizzo told the Philadelphia Daily News. “We set up Girls Rock Philly as a way girls could come together instead of tearing themselves down, and as a space to build relationships instead of feeling lost and alone.”

Benefits Work Both Ways as Kids Read to Dogs, Cats (Ventura County Star, California)

Libraries and animal shelters in the Ventura County, CA area are offering programs with dual benefits – nurturing animals while allowing kids who may be struggling at school to improve their reading comprehension. In the Reading to Animals program at the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC), Waggin’ Tales and Bark Buddies at the Simi Valley Library and Paws for Reading at the E.P. Foster Library, kids read books out loud to dogs and cats. The animals are calmed by human voices, helping them get used to people before adoption, and the kids can practice their reading skills in a judgment-free zone. “It gives them confidence to gain a voice,” SPARC volunteer director of educational outreach Denise Ritchie told the Ventura County Star. “They can make a mistake and the dog or cat doesn’t care.” 

JAN
13

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 13, 201

By Luci Manning

Kids Roller Skate off Extra Pounds (Chicago Tribune, Illinois)

Some 8,000 children in Chicago suburbs are skating their way to better health thanks to Orbit for Kids Skate Free, a national program sponsored by Roller Skating Association International dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. Kids receive two weekly skating passes through the program, and more than 600,000 children across the country are taking advantage of the opportunity. “We know if they skate twice a week, we won’t have childhood obesity,” Orbit Skate Center owner Sandra Levin told the Chicago Tribune. “Childhood obesity is an incredible problem and overweight kids can be lean, mean machines if their parents take them skating each week.”

No Waffling on This After-School Program (Beloit Daily News, Wisconsin)

What do macaroni and cheese, calamari, filet mignon and s’mores have in common? They’re all culinary creations cooked in a waffle iron by students in Merrill Elementary School’s “waffle academy” afterschool program. School counselor Kathy Cerniglia and her friend Eileen Smith, inspired by Daniel Shumski’s book “Will it Waffle: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron,” created the academy to teach kids how to whip up easy, creative and fun snacks with their families after school. “You can cook anything in it and all you need is a plug,” Smith told the Beloit Daily News.

Students Are Building Their Way to a Better Future (Muscatine Journal, Iowa)

Students ages nine to 14 are helping the environment, learning important STEM concepts and improving their teamwork and problem-solving abilities through the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) afterschool program. Each year of the FLL program contains two main challenges: children design, build and program an autonomous robot, and then they collaborate to solve a real world problem based on a theme. This year’s theme is “Trash Trek,” so each project addresses trash and recycling – for instance, one group partnered with their local Hy-Vee to improve recycling of pizza boxes and plastic bags, while another tested whether no smoking signs decrease cigarette waste at certain intersections. “Besides the team building thing and communications skills, they can learn true technology skills that they can use in the real world,” team leader Chris Hoffman told the Muscatine Journal.

Library Offers Activity-Filled After-School Program (Washington Post, Virginia)

Students in the Cool After School program at the Bridgewater Branch of the Massanutten Regional Library system spent last Tuesday creating “Oobleck,” a fictional sticky substance from a Dr. Seuss book, learning the scientific progress and developing problem-solving skills along the way. The program runs twice a month and uses crafts to bring children’s books, current events and holidays to life for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. Branch manager Bly Brown told the Washington Post that her favorite part of the program is “just seeing the children’s excitement and challenge. I really love how children and parents work together.”

JAN
6

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: January 6, 2016

By Luci Manning

Gentrification, the Musical? S.F. Arts Program Explains Kids' Play Featured on 'This American Life' (SFGATE, California)

A group of San Francisco elementary school students recently wrote and performed a musical about the changing landscape of their city, addressing serious issues like rising rent prices, evictions and the tech boom. Students in the nonprofit Children’s After School Arts program (CASA) developed the musical, “City Not For Sale,” with the help of their teachers throughout the year. The play was then featured in a recent episode of the popular podcast “This American Life.” CASA executive director Leslie Einhorn told SFGATE that the play “made me very proud to be part of this community of people who are brave enough… to have these conversations that a lot of people shy away from or think they’re too complex for kids.”

ARJH's After-School Program Lets Kids Continue to Learn (Muskogee Phoenix, Oklahoma)

About 75 Alice Robertson Junior High students are participating in Zumba dancing, art, video coding, robotics and choir after school thanks to a new 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. “We want kids to be where it is safe, supportive and happy,” program director Tammy Pierce told the Muskogee Phoenix. Through Project CREATE, kids are able to partake in a variety of enrichment activities that they may not have time for during regular school hours. They also receive tutoring on core classes and a safe space to spend their afterschool hours four days a week.

BJHS Students Explore New Interests After School (Bedford Now, Michigan)

The traditional school day doesn’t often include lessons in crocheting, juggling or pottery, so Bedford Junior High School afterschool programs are filling the gaps. Each semester, students can participate in special interest clubs like Charity Club, Robotics Club and Book Club, where they can explore new hobbies and skills that don’t fit into their regular school schedule. Many of these hobbies have developmental and academic benefits, according to Bedford Now – for instance, art skills can improve creativity and hand-eye coordination, while juggling teaches improvisation.

Aqua Lab Explores the Heart of the Sea (Catskill Daily Mail, New York)

An award-winning afterschool STEM program at Coxsackie Elementary School is teaching students about chemistry, conservation and biology by giving them an important responsibility—caring for sea creatures, both in their classroom and out in the world. Students in the Aqua Lab maintain fish tanks filled with jellyfish, shrimp and corals while learning about the pollution, overfishing and reef destruction that threaten the animals’ natural habitats. “The goal is to educate the community about the ocean habitat, develop an appreciation for it and to raise awareness of all the dangers these creatures are facing,” program creator Melissa Durant told the Catskill Daily Mail. The program received the “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award from the New York State School Boards Association and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering earlier this year. 

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DEC
23

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 23, 2015

By Luci Manning

Rêve Consulting Teaches Students Digital and Professional Skills to Narrow Achievement Gap (Minneapolis Business Journal, Minnesota)

More than 2,000 Minneapolis students have developed in-demand technology and business skills thanks to Rêve Academy, a project of business strategy firm Rêve Consulting. An afterschool program, started by the company’s co-founders, works in dozens of schools to teach students valuable computer skills like HTML, photography and WordPress, while also providing them with valuable business experience running meetings, speaking with client teams and meeting deadlines. Students even take home a paycheck. “It’s this beautiful balance of developing technology expertise in tandem with social skills development,” Rêve Academy academic program manager Amanda Janssen told the Minneapolis Business Journal.

Wrestling Program Fosters Success off the Mat (Detroit News, Michigan)

Wrestling is more than just a physical challenge, according to Beat The Streets head coach Mike Confliti. He’s using the sport to impart life lessons on some Detroit youth through his afterschool program, keeping them off the streets and helping to improve their academic performance and general attitude. “In wrestling, you lose and learn how to handle a loss,” he told the Detroit News. “You learn not to blame anybody. You hold accountability for everything. That’s real life.” Hundreds of Detroit children ages 9-14 have participated in the afterschool program since it started in 2009, learning to manage their time and emotions, listen when someone is speaking and develop a competitive drive.

Youth Treated Like STARS at After-School Program (Orange County Register, California)

Students in high-poverty neighborhoods throughout Anaheim now have access to free drop-in afterschool programs at eight city parks, thanks to a $378,000 initiative by Anaheim’s Community Services Department called STARS – Study Time, Arts, Recreation and Sports. “There was a need for programs for children in a lot of different neighborhoods who didn’t have access to outdoor space, homework assistance or sports, and we’re here to fill that void with mentorship and leadership,” Anaheim community services superintendent Kimberly Kelman told the Orange County Register. STARS programs provide a broad range of activities for children to participate in: homework help on Mondays, sports on Tuesdays, art on Wednesdays, STEM activities on Thursdays and field day-style games on Fridays.

The Art of Reaching Less Fortunate Children (Broward County Sun Sentinel, Florida)

The nonprofit Young At Art Museum is teaching homeless children to tap into their creative side while lending a helping hand to their struggling parents. The afterschool ArtREACH program runs every day between 2:00 and 6:00 PM, with sessions alternating between homework help and a variety of art projects inspired by famous painters. The kids have a chance to bond with one another while learning to draw, paint and create something beautiful. The program is also a big help to the students’ parents, who may not be available to care for their children during the afterschool hours. “The whole program, the whole situation, I counted it as a blessing,” one mother, Idris Bozeman, told the Sun Sentinel

DEC
16

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: December 16, 2015

By Luci Manning

Bransford Kids Visit Governor’s Mansion (Tennesseean, Tennessee)

Some 40 students in the Bransford Pride afterschool program toured the Tennessee House, Governor Bill Haslam’s home, as part of the fifth annual Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays celebration. Artists from across the state donated their artwork to decorate the mansion, so the kids were able to see ornamented trees, stairwells and mantels as part of the educational tour. “It’s good for them to get out of their familiar environment and be exposed to new and different things,” Springfield Police Chief David Thompson, who accompanied the kids on their visit, told the Tennesseean.

Casserole Class Brings Back a Classic Dish (Philadelphia Daily News, Pennsylvania)

A group of fifth-grade students recently prepared a hearty, nutritious dinner of broccoli and cheese casserole and corn muffins as part of their afterschool cooking class at William Loesche Elementary School. The kids enthusiastically chopped vegetables, cracked eggs and grated cheese to put together last week’s meal, learning healthy and valuable skills that will last them the rest of their lives. According to Principal Sherin Kurian, the class is a hit – and not just with the students. “There are even parents who want to come,” she told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’d actually love to come and learn myself.”

After-School Programs Grow, but More Needed (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, New York)

A new report from the Greater Rochester After-School Alliance shows that despite a growing expansion of opportunities, there is still a great unmet need for afterschool and summer programs in the city. According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, as many as 69 percent of children age five to 17 – more than 14,000 children total – don’t have access to afterschool programs, due to cost restrictions, transportation issues or lack of availability. The report recommends adding capacity, increasing quality and sharing best practices.

Bridging Prep School and Title I, Pen Pals Meet for First Time (Charleston Post & Courier, South Carolina)

Students from North Charleston Elementary School and Mason Preparatory School are from the same city, but different worlds. Those worlds came together through the WINGS afterschool program’s pen pal project, which was conceived after a white supremacist killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston earlier this year. The students exchanged letters for several months before meeting for the first time last week, where they discussed their common interests and saw that they’re not so different from one another. “We believe the fourth- and fifth-grade age is when kids are kind of color blind for the last time before habits set in and world views inform the world around them,” Mason Preparatory head of school Erik Kreutner told the Charleston Post & Courier. “I think that with so many of the schools, almost all of the schools in Charleston need more exposure to diversity.”