CFK Program Partners, P.S. 81

Record Crowds of Parents Gather for Family Fitness Fun Day at P.S. 81 – VIDEO

This spring, P.S. 81 students and their families rounded out their school year with a hugely successful Family Fitness Fun Day! The event typically draws 50 or so parents from the community and their children; this year, a record-breaking 300 kids and 122 parents jumped, ran and danced their way to physical fitness. Teachers revealed secret skills as they led activities–our own School Manager Zareta Rick turned out to be a Zumba master!

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Family Fitness Fun Day is part of the Fan4Kids curriculum, CFK’s health and fitness program provider at P.S. 81. As parents visited different stations with their kids, teachers and leaders encouraged them to think about how they might incorporate more physical fitness into their daily routine.

With such a record number of parents in attendance, it was an opportunity for Principal Cheryl Ault-Barker to follow up with those parents in the community who are harder to reach, and touch base with them about their children’s progress.

At the end of the day, parents were eager to share how much fun they had, and said they couldn’t wait for next year! Check out this local news coverage of the event here (featuring our own Zareta Ricks in the background).

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Graduates Get a Jump on Middle School

Middle school is tough for almost everyone. It’s hard to find a single person who would look back on seventh grade and say, “That was the best time of my life!”

Imagine if, when you were in the fifth or sixth grade, someone could have given you a heads-up, a little more insight, a boost of confidence and self-respect, before you left your cozy elementary school for the unfamiliar halls of the middle school. It would have made that first year a lot better.

For years, Principal Cheryl Ault-Barker has wanted to send her fifth graders off with just such an extra dose of wisdom and love, and this spring, she will.  School Manager Zareta Ricks tapped four fantastic volunteers from the local community to speak to the graduating class.

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In two two-part workshops–“It’s a Girl Thing” and “Grooming for Greatness”–volunteers Ms. Angela, Ms. Katrina, and Ms. Tennille led the girls and Mr. Russell and Mr. Arthur led the boys in discussions that opened a safe space for students to voice their fears about leaving elementary school. They encouraged students to think about what it meant to have confidence, self-respect, and character when they faced situations that might intimidate them.

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The workshops also addressed gender stereotypes, peer pressure, dressing for success and personal hygiene. To help bring their discussions to life, boys received a lesson in how to tie a tie and a free haircut, and girls received full manicures.

When the conversation turned to what it meant to be a girl and what it meant to be a boy, the focus was on standing together and respecting each other, and that made it possible for students to ask personal questions they hadn’t been able to ask anyone before.

Of course there was plenty of giggling and blushing, not to mention lots of gaping mouths and gobsmacked expressions in that portion of the workshop, but as one girl explained, “It’s too much, but I have to know what’s happening!” Cupcakes and treats definitely helped make it much more bearable. And what these fifth graders learned will make their transition to a new school smoother and safer.

Many, many thanks to our stellar volunteer workshop leaders, who made such an impact on our students!

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CFK Program Partners

Behind the Scenes at Story Pirates HQ – VIDEO

One of CFK’s most beloved volunteer opportunities, Story Love puts our students’ whimsical stories in the hands of grown-up readers. Readers provide our budding authors with crucial positive feedback, while our students share unforgettable heroes, villains, plots twists and one-liners, like this winner from a recent session in May: “If life gives you disco balls, just disco.” Excellent advice, future Tolstoy!

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But attending a Story Love session at the Story Pirates HQ in the Drama Book Shop on West 40th, volunteers get a glimpse at the madcap creative engine behind the stories they are commenting on.  Just before Memorial Day, a group of readers from the Junior League gathered there to offer feedback on stories from 4th and 5th graders at P.S. 160 in Queens. They worked in a space packed with props from past shows–dolphins, a giant Hello Kitty doll, and masks that would give Jim Henson a run for his money.  Behind the readers was a wall of kid authors whose stories have been performed at Saturday shows.

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In the room next door, the Story Pirates were rehearsing at full tilt, and readers couldn’t help but laugh at overheard lines. We caught a sneak peak of the Story Pirates’ amazing creativity at work–check out this video of a few select scenes from a story about a muscle-obsessed lonely cow. Many thanks for this insider’s view, and to our friends in the Junior League for volunteering for Story Love!

Behind the Scenes with the Story Pirates for CFK from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Learns to De-Stress before Tests – VIDEO

Nothing creates stress in the classroom quite like state tests; and nothing gets in the way of a clear head like stress. With that in mind, School Manager Zareta Ricks and Fitness Director Justin Jones from our partner program, Fan4Kids, put together a special class to help students tackle their exams. We know they’re going to do great–last year, P.S. 81 achieved an “A” rating, in part because of student success!

For the first half of the class, students had a lesson in meditation. Listening to nature sounds, they learned how to calm their minds and open their senses to the world around them. Then, after a stretch at their desks, it was outside into one of the first warm spring days to burn off any nervous energy–and have some fun!

Here are the P.S. 81 champions, showing us how its done:

P.S. 81 Stress-Busting Champs! from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Students Find New Friends at The Hackley School – VIDEO

Earlier this year, our students at P.S. 81 enjoyed a Saturday of arts, sports, music and fun with a group of fantastic ninth graders from The Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY. What started off as a volunteer opportunity for the Hackley students quickly turned into new friendships and an important relationship between two very different schools.

“I had such a great day at P.S. 81 because we were able to make the kids’ day that much better,” offered one Hackley student. “We didn’t just brighten their day, they made us laugh, too and helped us enjoy the day even more. Everybody taught the kids something and helped them to enjoy the idea of school which is an important part of their young lives.”

We can’t wait for the Hackley students to come back, and hope to replicate this relationship in our other partner schools. Click here to read more of the students’ reflections on their day at P.S. 81.

Check out this video of the day these students spent together:

Hackley Helps PS 81 Edit 2a from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 15

P.S. 15 Kindergarten Artists Make Fine Feathered Friends

An integral part of the art program at P.S. 15 is a field trip to the Children’s Museum of Art, our program partners at the school. On Friday, January 24, 23 kindergarteners spent a morning in the gallery at CMA, where the main exhibit, “Tweet,” features birds of all sorts rendered in different kinds of media—from MetroCards to found feathers to water colors.

After students learned about some of the ways birds can be represented in art and what they symbolize, they got to make construction paper totem poles. They topped their creations with their own mythical bird.

Using chalk, students drew three half faces on the left side of dark construction paper, one on top of the other. Then they folded and pressed the paper in half to transfer the chalk from one side to the other, creating three perfectly symmetrical totem heads, the top one, to be transformed into a bird.

After decorating the faces with bright colors, students refolded their papers and clipped small chunks from the open edge, creating three distinct head shapes.

They decorated and glued wings to their bird. Once attached to the repurposed arm of a hanging file, the totems could be attached to the edge of a desk and would stand  upright.

When asked what they liked about this project, students answered “drawing faces,” “the wings!” and, of course, “the colors”–bright chalk that glowed on the blue paper.  One student explained that he liked getting to make whatever he wanted, and a lot of it. “What I like about art is that you just create a lot of stuff,” he said.

When the glue had dried and they were lined up on the tables, the class’ totems were bold, eye-catching and totally fly.

 

 

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Students Discover the Wonders of Skype

For the 19 fourth and fifth grade students he met in November, Chef Abraham Salum’s visit was a highlight of the year.  Whipping together basic ingredients such as fruit, yogurt and cookies into tasty bites, he got everyone involved in a fun, hands-on cooking lesson. Students left excited to try making their own snacks at home, and with new ideas about what it’s like to be a professional chef.

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Chef Salum, who visited initially to meet the kids he would be representing at the Super Chefs event, was equally taken with the P.S. 81 students. He was eager  to continue his relationship with them and collaborated with P.S. 81 staff to find a way to return. Later this month he will be back…virtually, via Skype.

In his next lesson, Salum will teach students about cooking from recipes. In addition, Salum is also preparing special packages for each of the 19 students he’s worked with to keep them cooking after the lesson is over. Teachers will surprise students with the gifts during the Skype session.

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Chefs Maneet Chauhan and Salum at Super Chefs on November 14

Communicating through Skype will expose students to a 21st century technology they are largely unfamiliar with. Experience with new technology is a key focus of P.S. 81’s curricular goals, and engaging with Chef Salum via Skype makes real and personal an otherwise abstract tool.

“In our school population, it is very rare that our children interact personally with professionals such as Chef Salum,” said Ms. Jackson, lead teacher with Salum’s group of students. “His visit opened up a window of possibilities for them that they may have never considered.  And an opportunity to Skype with him, brings a level of exposure that is often taken for granted because for many of us it is the norm. However, for these children, technology and practiicing 21st century skillls is a privilege.”

Another focus of the P.S. 81 curriculum is listening comprehension. Seeing a fun way to get students to practice their listening skills, teachers have asked Chef Salum to read a recipe aloud at the end of his lesson. Students will then write down the recipe and whoever’s copy is the most accurate will receive the recipe’s ingredients so that he or she may cook the dish at home.

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A signed Chef Salum recipe 

Our tremendous thanks to Chef Salum for helping to bring these essential lessons in technology, listening and cooking to life for the students at P.S. 81. In all ways, we know it will be a hit with these young Chef Salum fans.