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Snacks by Luci Manning
JUN
24

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 24, 2015

By Luci Manning

Louisiana Afterschool Programs Not Meeting Demand, Survey Says (Alexandria Town Talk, Louisiana)

Parents across Louisiana are having trouble finding afterschool and summer learning programs for their kids, according to the Afterschool Alliance’s America After 3PM survey. By extending the day during the school year and into the summer, quality programs supplement what schools already provide and help augment student learning, United Way of Central Louisiana president and CEO David Britt said. Many area programs are already doing a good job, but Louisiana needs more high-quality programs to meet demand. "The community has got to step up and help," Britt told the Alexandria Town Talk. "There's more the community can do to align learning with what schools already are doing and have a big impact on student learning."

Valley Organization Connects Families with Affordable Summer Camps (KPHO, Arizona)

With summer camp season in full swing, many parents are struggling to find places for their children to spend summer vacation. "We see far more families expressing interest in having their children enrolled in summer programs than are actually able to participate now," Afterschool Alliance vice president of research and policy Jen Rinehart told KPHO. To fill the gap, groups like the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence are working to place children in affordable summer learning programs that provide a safe place, positive relationships and learning opportunities.

Letter: Summer Learning Is Important (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Washington)

Afterschool Ambassador Brent Cummings penned a letter to the editor of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin touting the benefits of local summer learning programs: “At Walla Walla Public Schools’ 21st Century summer programs, children get a heavy dose of exercise for both the mind and brain, giving kids opportunities for fun, interactive learning such as robotics camps, building drones and quad-copters, creating movies and TV shows, programming and testing self-created video games, and designing and 3-D printing board game pieces…. On behalf of all our students and their families, please spread the word about the importance of high quality, accessible summer learning programs.”

Letter: Summer Fun Benefits (Kansas City Star, Missouri)

Afterschool Ambassador Kim Chappelow-Lee wrote a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star about how her summer learning program improves students’ physical health and academic abilities: “Keeping minds and bodies engaged during the summer goes a long way toward avoiding what researchers call summer learning loss…. At the Johnson County Park & Recreation District, children get plenty of exercise, which fuels both body and brain, along with opportunities for fun interactive learning, including: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), gardening, field trips, community service, environmental education, social interaction and lots of fresh air. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough programs to go around.”

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JUN
17

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 17, 2015

By Luci Manning

Program Guides Students Through Boat Building Using Academics (WPVI, Pennsylvania)  

Local middle school and high school students capped off their boat-building afterschool program by launching two handcrafted duck boats into the Delaware River last week. The SAILOR Program (Science and Art Innovative Learning on the River) uses traditional boat building and nautical education to advance proficiency in STEM subjects. Students worked with shipwright mentors and STEM instructors at the Independence Seaport Museum for 33 weeks to design and craft the boats. “It’s a really dynamic program where they build the boat, but by building the boat they’re really learning about STEM, and really hands-on and fun and engaging way,” organizer Jennifer Totora told WPVI.  

Roosevelt Students Enjoy Hands-on Ag Experience (Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Nebraska)  

Nearly 100 third, fourth and fifth graders recently had the chance to learn about how agriculture affects their daily lives through the inaugural 4-H Ag Literacy program. The students toured six stations at the research center focused on animals, soil science, how insects affect agriculture, careers and more. The Ag Literacy program fits well with the Roosevelt Elementary School summer extended day program’s goal to focus on math, writing, reading and science, according to Principal Jana Mason. “The students were excited and learned a lot,” she told the Star-Herald. “This is the first year with the extended day program, and the Ag Literacy provides more opportunities for the students to make real world connections.”  

Marco YMCA’s Wonder Girls Program Includes Growth in Surprising Ways (Naples Herald, Florida)  

“I learned that you need to accept who you are and how to make the right choices socially, like who your friends are, and how to eat right and surround yourself with good people that make you feel good about yourself.”  This is a testimonial from a young woman who participated in Wonder Girls, a 12-week afterschool program teaching middle school girls how to be healthier, inside and out, the Naples Herald reports.  Thanks to Wonder Girls, a partnership between the Greater Marco Family YMCA and Marco Island Charter Middle School, these young women gained self-confidence, insight into themselves and others and knowledge about healthy living. Organizers are so pleased with the success of the program that they’re offering it again in the fall and plan to launch a version for males, Wonder Boys, next spring. 

Baltimore Program Tackles Roots of Unrest (Voice of America News, Maryland) 

Promise Heights, an academic-community partnership, is using four public schools as hubs to deliver nurturing, wraparound services to students, families and their communities in West Baltimore. These community schools aim to mitigate the detrimental effects extreme poverty can have on kids and their parents through services like prenatal care, tutoring and parental counseling. Executive director Bronwyn Mayden says Promise Heights schools are suspending fewer students than their counterparts, gains she attributes in part to expanded learning days and afterschool programs. The partnership strives to create a supportive environment at school and home so as to improve impoverished students’ learning abilities. “We work with those social-emotional factors… so their little brains are ready to receive the instruction that their educators are giving them,” social worker Henriette Taylor told Voice of America News.

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JUN
10

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 10, 2015

By Luci Manning

Internet Rapper Mingles with Jersey City Afterschool Program Students (Jersey Journal, New Jersey)

Internet phenomenon Kevin “DJ Lil Man” Brown, also known as Mr. New Jersey, recently dropped in on St. Peters University’s afterschool program, where he was greeted by dozens of frenzied, excited students. According to the Jersey Journal Brown led the students in an altered game of musical chairs, where the winner had to answer a history question before receiving a $20 prize, and a dance contest. Afterwards, he stuck around to take pictures with the students. In addition to hosting celebrity guests, the afterschool and summer program offers kids a number of fun activities each year – last summer they performed step routines and directed and acted in TV commercials promoting products they had created.

Lincoln Students Race to Improve Reading Skills (Mason City Globe Gazette, Iowa)

Sixty-five fifth- and sixth-graders finished their nine-week commitment to read and exercise more with the Lincoln Intermediate Read and Run 5K last week. Sixth grade literacy instructor Kathleen Nutt told the Globe Gazette that she decided to develop Read and Run after learning that students often show improved academic performance after exercising. Participants in the afterschool program prepared for the race using the Couch to 5K training plan, then spent a half-hour reading. First-place finisher Christian Rodriguez said the program has helped him improve his reading scores, and he credits his math teacher’s encouragement to “push to do better than I know I can” with keeping him motivated throughout the race.

New Boise Partnership Will Bring Produce Along with the Fun and Games (Idaho Statesman, Idaho)

Each summer, a van known as the Mobile Recreation Unit travels through lower-income Boise neighborhoods and provides free, supervised, drop-in activities for kids who don’t have access to programs near their homes. This year, the Mobile Rec van is teaming up with the Boise Farmers Market to offer those neighborhoods another helpful service: farm-fresh produce. While the kids play, their parents will be able to shop for farm-fresh produce from a refrigerated mobile market traveling alongside the van, according to the Idaho Statesman. The two programs are working together to promote Boise’s initiative to curb childhood obesity.

At Santa Monica PAL, Youth Chefs Get a Taste for Success (Santa Monica Daily Press, California)

The Santa Monica Police Activities League’s afterschool cooking class has high school students producing everything from pasta and rice dishes to salads to flatbread pizzas and grilled kabob skewers. The culinary arts program not only teaches kids to make quick, healthful meals, but also aims to foster self-sufficiency, keep young people engaged afterschool and nurture their development as upstanding citizens. Students recently showed off what they’ve learned by cooking a meal for dozens of donors and community members, whipping up dishes like chicken piccata, salmon and spinach cannelloni. Program supervisor Karen Humphrey said she hopes the students continue to use these skills outside the classroom to keep themselves and their families healthy. “My hope is that they continue to cook at home,” she told the Santa Monica Daily Press. “We want the kids to be able to cook food for their entire family.” 

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JUN
3

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  June 3, 2015

By Luci Manning

Council Members Complain, and Summer School Money Is Restored (New York Times, New York)

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reversed his recent decision to cut 17,000 slots in summer programs for middle school students. The $28 million saved by cutting the programs was meant to be redirected to low-performing schools, but in a hearing on Thursday New York City Council members said that was not reason enough to deprive other children, many of them low-income as well, of opportunities to attend summer programs. City officials announced Thursday afternoon that the administration would restore program money “after hearing from parents and kids,” according to the New York Times.

After-School Robotics Program Creates ‘Success Story’ for Middle-Schoolers (Deseret Morning News, Utah)

A new district-wide afterschool robotics program culminated last week with seventh- through ninth-grade students from three schools sending their robots into battle against one another in everything from tug-of-war to sumo-style combat. The program is one of several overseen by the Utah STEM Action Center, an effort led by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to coordinate STEM opportunities for students. The campaign specifically targets girls and kids from low-income families, two of the populations least likely to pursue careers in STEM fields, to get them excited about computer programming. And it seems to be working. “I absolutely love this program,” ninth-grader Joshua Herman told the Deseret Morning News. “I get to be creative every day after school and be able to learn more and create new ways of solving simple problems.”

Reading Can Be Hard, but Reading Rangers Ride to the Rescue (Huntsville Times, Alabama)

For some students, reading aloud in front of a group can be daunting. But at the Reading Rangers afterschool program, eight- to 12-year-old boys are gaining confidence and improving their reading skills with help from their leader, long-time library supervisor Geoffrey Jolly. At their weekly sessions, the boys elect a leader, select a book, then read and discuss, according to the Huntsville Times. They take turn reading out loud, two pages each, and they don’t have to worry about mispronouncing unfamiliar words – they have a dictionary on hand for reference. If the boys decide they like a book enough to recommend it to others, the library puts it on a shelf with a special bookmark. Jolly wants the boys to come to understand how essential reading is, because, as he always tells them: “When you read, you succeed.”

York County Elementary Students Learning Languages Early (York Dispatch, Pennsylvania)

At Delta-Peach Bottom Elementary School’s afterschool language program, kids play Twister to learn colors in German, sing songs in French and make snacks while reciting food names in Spanish. The students receive these creative, hands-on language lessons from the school’s language teachers and from older students, who also act as mentors to the kids. The free nine-week course is the only afterschool language program for elementary-age students in York County. According to German teacher Joanna Kapinos these young students are at the perfect age to learn a new language, “It’s actually the best time because they learn so quickly,” she told the York Dispatch. “Their accents are better, they’re still developing their critical thinking, they’re really able to pick it up, and it’s great.” 

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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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