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FEB
25

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 25, 2015

By Luci Manning

The 'T' in STEM: KidsTek Celebrates 15 Years (Denver Post, Colorado)

A small busload of well-dressed high school students arrived early at Mile High Station on Thursday with computers in tow. While a bit shy, any one of them could demonstrate how to troubleshoot a computer that stubbornly refused to get on a company network, thanks to the skills they learned at KidsTek, a nonprofit afterschool program that teaches technology to minority and lower income students. The program wants to steer high school students into computer careers, but they hope the skills they learn through the program can help them on whatever path they choose. “It’s not about getting them interested in technology. That is a byproduct,” executive director Richard Liner told the Denver Post. “We’re trying to give the kids the tech knowledge they need for any career they get into.”

Boise Rock School Rolls into Treasure Valley’s Cultural Scene (The Statesman, Idaho)

At 4 PM on any given weekday, a stream of kids rushes through the doors at Boise Rock School. The afterschool program teaches kids to rock like AC/DC or croon like Sam Smith, with classic rock, pop and indie folk music all mixing in the common area. What makes Rock School unique is that the students drive the curriculum – teachers are mostly there to coach and nurture, not push and prod. For kids who can’t make it to the actual Rock School, the program’s nonprofit arm, Rock on Wheels, visits schools, juvenile corrections facilities, homeless shelters and the Horseshoe Bend school district’s 21st Century Community Learning Center. “We throw around the word ‘cool’ a lot, but this really is,” program director Kim Hall told the Idaho Statesman. “This is an opportunity for these kids to shine that they might not get in other areas of their lives.”

Program Teaches About Girls Who Rock (Beloit Daily News, Wisconsin)

What do Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo and Bethany Hamilton – the surfer whose left arm was bitten off in a shark attack – have in common? They are strong women who overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams. They are the kind of women fifth graders learn about in the afterschool program Girls Who Rock (GWR) in Beloit. At GWR, girls chat with adult female mentors about self-esteem, friendship, good decision-making and more. Each session finishes with a large group circle where girls can discuss their lives. Founder and coordinator Jan Knutson said that fifth grade is the perfect time for girls to gain more self-esteem before entering middle school. “Role models are really important, especially for kids this age,” she told the Beloit Daily News.

After-School Programs a Big Hit in Westerly (Westerly Sun, Rhode Island)

At one end of State Street Elementary school, a small group of students is learning how to putt. Down the hall, another group is rehearsing lines for a play. In various classrooms in between, students are learning Italian, singing in a music ensemble, cooking, learning jazz dance and a little about nutrition. However, all of this takes place after the school day ends.  “It’s the second year the school has offered its afterschool enrichment program, and it’s thriving,” the Westerly Sun reports.  Organizers had to turn away 60 students who wanted to participate.

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18

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Weekly Media Roundup  February 18, 2015

By Luci Manning

My Valentine to Operation Shoestring (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)

Mother of three Wytreace Clark wrote a column for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about her sons’ experience with Project Rise, the afterschool and summer program at Operation Shoestring. She writes: “I love Operation Shoestring’s Project Rise because the staff there truly care about my sons… I love it because it’s connected by sons with mentors who guide them in becoming responsible young men who respect themselves and others… I love it because it is giving my children the chance to try things that are new to them, like horseback riding, fishing, kickball tournaments and soccer… Operation Shoestring… is making a huge difference for my family by allowing me to work, keeping my kids safe, and inspiring them to learn.”

Homework Club, Naval Hospital Sailors Give Back (Pensacola News Journal, Florida)

Anywhere between 30 and 50 students can be seen bouncing down the halls of West Pensacola Elementary School on Tuesdays and Thursdays, excited to spend time with some special guests. The students, part of an afterschool program called the Homework Club, get to receive tutoring from Pensacola Naval Hospital sailors in subjects such as math and reading. Laurie Cothran, West Pensacola curriculum coordinator and co-creator of the tutoring program, said she has seen a positive change in the students and their work ethic since launching the program. “I’ve talked to some of the teachers and they say the ones who are participating come to class a lot more prepared and they’re participating a lot more,” she told the Pensacola News Journal.

After-School Program at Six-Month Mark (Norfolk Daily News, Virginia)

“Aftershock,” a fledgling afterschool program at Norfolk Public Schools, is creating waves of enthusiasm among more than 200 students. The program includes 27 afterschool “clubs” that cover a wide range of interests from the arts to science to physical fitness, giving students ownership over their afterschool classes and, perhaps, their future careers. “It provides students with a safe, fun, learning environment during those key hours after school when many students could be unsupervised,” superintendent of schools Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, told the Norfolk Daily News. “It is also a great way for our students to connect with community members who have special talents or interests that our students might not otherwise be exposed to.”

A Second Chance at Success for Kingman Middle School Students (Kingman Daily Miner, Arizona)

For students at Kingman and White Cliffs middle schools, especially those with low or failing grades, the afterschool activities offered are a second chance at success. Not only do they teach students unexplored skills – like how to lift weights, play the guitar or build a raised brick garden bed – the learning centers also offer them a chance to improve their behavior, productively apply themselves and connect with the community. WCMS coordinator Laura Orendain said about 60 kids currently attend the afterschool program, and parents often take advantage of the learning center’s other services as well, such as family fitness activities and employment counseling. “This program is very beneficial and opens up opportunities for the school that we didn’t have before,” she told the Daily Miner. “We’re getting more involved in our families’ lives, and that’s changing things for the kids.” 

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11

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  February 11, 2015

By Luci Manning

Teenage Chess Whiz From Fair Lawn Teaches Young Players (The Record, New Jersey)

After school eager Fairmount Elementary School students line up across from each other on a block-tiled linoleum floor resembling a giant chessboard. At Greg Gabovich’s command, they walk forward until they’re standing diagonally opposite each other and high five, demonstrating how a pawn can conquer another piece in chess. High school senior and internationally-ranked competitive chess player Gabovich created the Chessmates afterschool program a year ago, crediting the game with helping him develop analytical thinking and a love for math. “The thing is, if you can tie education to a student’s passion, the student is going to do better in all aspects of their education,” Scott Demeter, Gabovich’s former history teacher who helped him draft interactive lessons for Chessmates, told The Record.

Educational Puzzles Solved Together on Challenge Island (The News & Observer, North Carolina)

Sometimes, it takes creative methods to get kids to learn. In the case of the Challenge Island afterschool program, the lesson plans borrow some of the methods – and challenges – from the popular reality show, “Survivor.” Challenge Island is an afterschool program for elementary students that reinforces STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and core language arts skills through hands-on learning encouraging children to work together to come up with innovative solutions. “Kids really learn to work together, using the scientific method, designing, testing, revising and testing until complete,” owner Tom Harrington told the News & Observer. Harrington said he is especially impressed with the collaboration among students. “Usually, children don’t start to learn to work like that until middle school but we’re doing it in first grade,” he said.

For STEAM Studio Students, Class Is in the Architects’ Loft (Kansas City Star, Missouri)

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, a group of young girls in Kansas City gather in the third-floor loft space of the architectural firm Gould Evans, an unconventional classroom known as STEAM Studio. The “anti-classroom” is the brainchild of Rockhurst University assistant professor of education Mandi Sonnenberg, who aims to inspire students to be more innovative and encourage non-traditional thinking by bringing them to unusual creative spaces for learning. On this particular afternoon, the girls’ only assignment is to explore and create using the firm’s supplies to bring their design ideas to life through fabric, white paper, scissors and glue.  “The collaboration began earlier this school year as Rockhurst University enlisted afterschool groups to pilot the program,” the Kansas City Star reports.

San Jose Mayor Unveils Plans for After-School Programs, Teen Jobs (Contra Costa Times, California)

In one of his first new initiatives as mayor, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled a plan to spend public money to provide afterschool programs to city kids and teens. Mayor Liccardo said the youth programs would help address two key issues in San Jose: public safety and the wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots. The Contra Costa Times reports, “Expanding afterschool programs is a popular strategy for city officials across the country to redirect trouble-prone kids into constructive activities like sports and music. Liccardo’s plan would target K-5 students and focus mostly on academic programs.”

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4

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Weekly Media Roundup  February 4, 2015

By Luci Manning

Imagination Soars at Library’s Science Program (Riverdale Press, New York)

At the Riverdale Library Afterschool Science Program, students learned how to fly their own planes – the paper kind, that is. Last week’s flight-centered program taught students about lift, drag and thrust, and then engineered their own paper planes for a flying competition. Students experimented with various folding techniques to make their planes fly faster and straighter. “The normal way is that you’re supposed to fold the top down all the way, but this time, I folded it less, which makes it better and more aerodynamic,” 10-year-old Matteo Cereola told the Riverdale Press. Competition winners received admission tickets to the Museum of Natural History.

Providence Tech Initiatives Inspire Middle, High School Students (Brown Daily Herald, Rhode Island)

Two new afterschool programs in Providence are connecting college and middle-school students. Girls Who Code and Intracity Geeks both launched afterschool programs last month to teach middle school students how to code.  Brown students act as assistant teachers and “heroes” to youth. Intracity Geeks founder and executive director Claude Arnell Millhouse told the Brown Daily Herald, “My vision is to combat income inequality with access.”  He wants his students to show their friends how to code and create momentum “towards a society in which coding is cool and inclusive.” 

After-School Program at Holy Name Lets Kids Fiddle, Tinker, Create ‘Whatever They Want’ (Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska)

During Maker’s Workshop day at the Holy Name afterschool program, one boy was removing wires from a computer tower, another was dismantling a cellphone and others were plugging a battery pack into globs of electricity-conducting dough to power tiny LED lights. Holy Name technology and grant coordinator Karen Smolinski said she started the weekly afterschool program to give kids a place where they could use their hands and minds to build and create without anyone telling them what to do. “When I say whatever they want, it’s whatever they want. We just let them go on whatever we have materials for,” she told the Omaha World-Herald. The workshop echoes the national “maker movement” where adults and youth are encouraged to tinker, build and make.

Lessons Continue on Challenger Explosion, Hometown Hero (Carteret County News-Times, North Carolina)

On the 29th anniversary of the Challenger explosion, students in the Beaufort Elementary School Boys & Girls Club afterschool program received a history lesson on the Challenger and the U.S. space program. The lesson was inspired by a mini-museum in the school lobby honoring the late Challenger commander Capt. Michael J. Smith, a town native. For the past week, students learned about items in the museum, did Internet research, filled out worksheets and colored pictures related to the Challenger. Second-grader Analise Kubik told the Cateret County News-Times that after learning about the Challenger, she would like the chance to meet Capt. Smith’s family. “I also think it would be really cool to go in space and see things like the moon,” she said. 

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JAN
28

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 28, 2015

By Luci Manning

Giving Young Athletes in New York a Fighting Chance (New York Times, New York)

Retired police officer Pat Russo works with youths on fitness, schoolwork and discipline, preparing hundreds of young men and women to face everyday challenges.  Despite all the young people throwing punches, Russo swears the Atlas NYPD Cops and Kids Boxing Program is not about boxing—it’s a way to heal rifts between young people and police and to teach kids the importance of staying healthy and staying in school.  For high school senior Elijah Johnson, the afterschool program is working.  “I used to get into the wrong stuff,” he told the New York Times.  “When I started boxing, I learned to discipline myself, how to be on time, how to dress properly, stay focused on school and be willing to work.”

Mentoring Program Helps Boys at Dixie Magnet Elementary Show Respect and Gain Self-Confidence (Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky)

One by one, fourth- and fifth-grade boys in the Operation Making a Change afterschool group at Dixie Magnet Elementary stood at the front of the room and explained how they had shown leadership in the past week.  One had defused a bullying incident, another tutored kindergarten students and a third gave money to a homeless person.  The mentoring program is meant to teach these young men basic social and leadership skills, like how to show respect, set goals and take on responsibility at school.  Dixie Dean of Students Cheri Presley told the Lexington Herald Leader that the boys support each other and have developed a sense of family, especially with their mentors.  “Dixie as well as most other elementary schools have primarily female staffs,” she said.  “To bring men into the picture and mentor these boys, I feel like it’s been a huge success.”

Home Depot: Teaching Life Skills to Students (Jackson Sun, Tennessee)

At a Home Depot in Jackson last week, John Ducrest taught 13 children how to use simple tools, repair a hole in a wall and to cover damage.  The workshop was part of Keep My Hood Good, an afterschool mentoring program for children in high-crime areas.  Founder Juanita Jones said her mission is to equip the children to give back to their communities, the Jackson Sun reports.  Future workshops will teach other indoor and outdoor home repair and gardening projects, and Home Depot plans to partner with Keep My Hood Good on additional community service activities.

Mentoring Program Keeps Teen on Proper Path (Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois)

The Lawndale Christian Legal Center opened in 2010 to provide legal representation to area families, but its leaders quickly recognized that the youth they encountered needed more than legal help.  Organizers started an afterschool mentoring program targeting high school students on probation and in need of guidance.  “This is such an important relationship because there’s so many kids out here who are lost,” afterschool program director Maurice Harris told the Chicago Sun-Times.  “They don’t have the relationships with people that show continuous support with their daily life problems.”  Mentors follow the students throughout high school, eventually helping them with college applications and even job placement.  The center also provides academic tutoring, substance-abuse counseling, community service projects and social outings for the teens. 

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JAN
21

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Weekly Media Roundup  January 21, 2015

By Luci Manning

Pupils Use Microscopes, Food Coloring to Study Dairy Foods (The Daily Item, Pennsylvania)

Oaklyn Elementary School students had a “dairy” fun time experimenting with milk during their STEM-focused afterschool program last week.  The program is designed to assist at-risk students having academic and behavioral issues, and get them interested in STEM subjects.  Each week focuses on a different food topic, and last week was dedicated to milk.  Students at one station observed curds and whey under a microscope.  At another, they separated the fat content, and at a third, they observed the effects of food coloring on different types of milk.  “They don’t get to do these kinds of things in school,” John Ryan, owner of Customized Tutoring Services, which coordinated the program, told The Daily Item.  “We’ve gotten a lot of good responses from the kids, the staff and the parents.”

Millburn High School Students Learn Philanthropy (The Item of Millburn and Short Hills, New Jersey)

Millburn High School alumnus Yale Levey has returned to his alma mater to train students in the art of philanthropy.  Through his ten-week afterschool program, students raised money and donated about $1,600 to several New Jersey charities.  In order to decide who to give to, the students interviewed representatives from each charity and evaluated their tax returns.  Levey noted that it was difficult for the students to choose some charities over others, but that’s the point of the program.  “It’s intended on being an experience that pulls you out of your comfort zone,” he told The Item of Millburn and Short Hills.  The students presented representatives of the selected nonprofits with checks during a ceremony on January 6.

District Finding Uses for Federal Grants (Mohave Valley Daily News, Arizona)

Children in the Bullhead City Elementary School District (BHCESD) are learning the art of drone photography, thanks to federal grants awarded to five of the district’s six campuses.  The 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, which total about $600,000, are allowing students to participate in dozens of afterschool activities that address a wide variety of student interests.  The students are learning to operate drones, write computer code and build rockets, BHCESD’s curriculum and professional development director Cynthia Neuzil told the Mohave Valley Daily News.

On the Bright Side: Group Shows Jumping Rope Not Just a Game (The Daily Star, New York)

The Red Hot Ropers Jumprope afterschool program in Cooperstown is in its 23rd year of helping students learn new skills, exercise and have fun.  Third-grader Lucy Hayes said her favorite routine is one she does with a friend where they trade shoes while jumping rope.  Adviser and elementary physical education teacher Connie Herzig said the program gives the students a lot confidence and brings their strengths to the forefront.  “I love the way it creates an opportunity for exercise in the winter months,” she told The Daily Star.  “It taps into creativity, cooperation and joy. The kids just love it.”  The group has several performances on its calendar in the next month, including February 8 at halftime of the State University College at Oneonta men’s basketball game. 

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JAN
14

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Weekly Media Roundup  January 14, 2015

By Luci Manning

Static Cling! Kids Try to Make Cellphone Charging T-Shirts (The Brooklyn Paper, New York)

Pow! Caped Crusaders in Technology, a tech-centric afterschool program in Flatbush, is teaching sixth and seventh graders how to make wearable tech gadgets. For their first project, students created a shirt that can charge a cellphone. Once they finished the shirts, which feature pockets with a built-in phone charger and battery, the afterschool students presented their work to the rest of the class and took questions. Bobbie Brown, the site director of Brooklyn College Community Partnership, which runs the program, said the point of the program is to get kids thinking about making things. “Once they see that it’s not that hard, they’ll say ‘I can do this’,” Brown told The Brooklyn Paper. “Be more creative, take control. We’re really pushing that entrepreneurial spirit.”

Lafayette After-School Group Pairs Students with Mentors Who Are Architects, Engineers or Construction Professionals (Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky)

Architects, engineers and other construction professionals are giving students a glimpse into their daily lives through an afterschool mentoring program. In the Lafayette High School ACE (architecture, construction and engineering) Mentor Program, professionals teach students about the basics of building and aid them as they work on complex hypothetical projects. The program allows students to be around people with similar interests and to imagine what their future careers might look like. Gene Toth, director of Lafayette’s pre-engineering program, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the afterschool group gives his students “a hands-on chance to actually meet with the architects and engineers that do this on a daily basis.”

After-School Program at Nursing Home Helps Young and Old (Duncan Banner, Oklahoma)

At Wilkins Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an afterschool program for elementary students is bridging the generations. Through the Heart Bridge program, nursing home residents act as tutors and reading buddies for the students. The residents and the children love spending time together, and often connect as if they were relatives. “We have seen that children and school groups that come out always make the residents’ day,” Wilkins administrator and owner Melanie Wilkins told the Duncan Banner. “They just love to see the children and interact with them.” The average afternoon is packed with activity – the kids have a snack, read with the residents, work on art projects and attend field trips.

Teen Center Celebrated for Youth Outreach (The Herald, Connecticut)

The YWCA House of Teens, an afterschool program designed to give teenage girls advocacy and leadership skills, healthy habits and stronger self-esteem, will be honored today at a celebration with New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. House of Teens keeps girls motivated to stay in school and take part in community activities. “Many of these girls need female role models to help them develop leadership skills and good decision-making skills,” YWCA associate director Tracey Madden-Hennessey told The Herald. In the program, girls participate in community service projects, like collecting food for nonprofits and highlighting ways to prevent domestic violence. 

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JAN
7

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 7, 2015

By Luci Manning

Students Learn More Than Acting at Children’s Theatre (Vero Beach Press Journal, Florida)

Kids are learning a lot more than song and dance at the Riverside Children’s Theatre. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of afterschool programs at the theater, learning about lighting, sound, set and prop design, dance, singing, acting and much more. But most importantly, the kids learn life skills, including responsibility, communication skills, confidence and how to overcome fear. “Too many theaters spend all their time teaching kids how special they are instead of teaching them how to be special,” director/instructor Jeff Horger told the Press Journal. “We want to put our kids on a path to succeed in life.” Most recently, a cast of 19 students ages 10 to 15 put on a rendition of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Oakland: Afterschool Club That Gives Urban Boys Tools for Success Expanding (Contra Costa Times, California)

When high school teacher Ashanti Branch first learned that half of the school’s Latino and African-American boys were failing half or more of their classes, he created the Ever Forward Club to give urban youth the tools to succeed in life. Ten years later, the afterschool program has dozens of alumni, more than 90 percent of whom went on to college. Branch said the program mostly targets “students who are not really connecting to the school” to convince them that being smart and getting good grades is cool. In 2015, the club is expanding into more schools, launching a mentoring program and recruiting middle school boys for leadership training. Seventh grader Alijah Butler told the Contra Costa Times that the club helps students with their attitudes: “This is a place where we can say anything, things that are important to us, things we wouldn’t say in school.” The club will be featured in the documentary “The Mask You Live In,” premiering this month at the Sundance Film Festival.

A Leap of Faith for At-Risk Youths (Newport News Daily Press, Virginia)

Seventeen-year-old Michael Neblett said he used to be a bad kid – he got in trouble at school, disobeyed his mom and struggled to control his anger. Then he started skateboarding, and he said it changed his life. Neblett was one of five local teenagers chosen by the Newport News Department of Human Services to receive a free skating membership and mentoring at Mekos Skate Park. The initiative gives kids a safe place to be after school and aims to prevent violence, engage and empower youths and improve the lives of young people. The program offers help with homework and students said it helps build their self-esteem and motivates them to set and reach goals. Neblett told the Daily Press that he’s also learned to shoot and edit skateboarding videos through the program, and he recently applied to local colleges to study computer arts. “It all came from skateboarding,” he said.

Teenagers Tackle Heavy-Duty Themes (Ventura County Star, California)

Nine high school students recently performed “An Enemy of the People,” a sociopolitical drama that pits truth against politics and the individual against the majority, as part of the tuition-free afterschool program Literature in Action. The afterschool program has previously put on productions of “Twelve Angry People,” “Our Town,” “The Crucible” and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” “An Enemy of the People” is set in a small town known for its healing hot springs that fuel the town economy. When the local doctor discovers the bath waters are infested with bacteria, he tries to close the springs but is met with resistance by town leaders. Katie Guthrie, who played the doctor’s sister and the town mayor, told the Ventura County Star that she hoped the performance conveyed the message of right vs. wrong while showcasing the talent of teens tackling deep material. “I’d like people to take away that teenagers are capable of more than just the stereotypical comedic plays,” she said. “They can deal with adult themes and they can perform and they can impact.”

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