June Events: Registration for Summer and Fall!

June is a busy time at Arts and Athletics!

Registration is already open for Summer Camp 2024 and will open soon for the Fall Cycle of afterschool!

The last day of regular afterschool programming for this school year is Friday, June 14th. Beyond that date (through Tuesday, June 25th) Arts and Athletics will offer our bridge camp for those families needing childcare during afterschool hours. Additionally, there are dates in the coming weeks when DoE schools are closed. AAA will offer camps on several of these days. (See below and note that no camp will be offered on Memorial Day.)

Dates that our schools are closed and whether camp is offered:
1. Monday, May 27: Memorial Day (no camp offered)
2. Thursday, June 6: Chancellor’s day (camp is offered)
3. Friday, June 7: Clerical day (camp is offered)
4. Monday, June 17: Eid-al-Adha (camp is offered)
5. Wednesday, June 19: Juneteenth (camp is offered)

Arts and Athletics will conduct Summer Camp 2024 for eight weeks from Monday, July 1 to Friday, August 23. You can sign up for single weeks or all eight! Drop off and pick up are at PS 9 (84th/Columbus) and camp hours are 9 am to 5pm. (There is no camp on Thursday or Friday, July 4th and 5th. ) Campers can sign up for Outdoor Adventures, Musical Theater, or Instrumental Music! Instrumental Music Camp, offered for the first time this year, will include one-on-one instruction, group practice, ensemble performance, and fun introductions to music history and music theory.

Summer Camp Descriptions:
1. Outdoor Adventure:
This summer we will reprise our ever-popular outdoor camp where regular afterschool personnel guide children on adventures, field-trips, hikes, sports, and art projects around Central Park.
2. Performing Arts / Musical Theater: In musical theater camp Jeff Edmond and Ed Horan will guide students PS 9 as they collaborate to produce a new original show each week and perform on Fridays for their friends and family. Writing, singing, dancing, and acting!
3. Performing Arts / Instrumental Music: New this year, in support of the PS 9 music program, we will host a music immersion camp with instruction available in trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, piano, guitar, drums/percussion, and violin. The program will also introduce children to music history and theory, helping them to grow in their playing in fun and interesting ways.

For more information on our amazing music faculty and the learning opportunities available for your children, visit our music page here.

For more information click here or call Ryan Zavala at 917-975-8811 to reserve a spot.

The Perfect Afterschool Class

I’ve used the phrase “the perfect afterschool class” over years to refer to offerings that challenge students to use and develop skills they learned during the school day, but do so without piling on more work. When they take a cooking class, for example, they read recipes, engage in procedural thinking, work out fractions in scaling the amounts of various ingredients up or down, and gauge how adventurous they feel about tasting a new food for the first time. In each of these ways, they are applying things they know in a real-world situation.

But in cooking class, they shouldn’t feel they are being tested or graded or judged. They should just feel smart and competent and emboldened and like they understand a little better why the adults include stuff like fractions in their daytime studies.

In reality there isn’t any such thing as a perfect afterschool class and even the simplest offerings can be great in their own way. Kickball doesn’t utilize a lot of academic skill, but taking part, being present with classmates, cheering them on, taking turns…those are important skills to develop as well.

And sometimes what is most valuable is the children basking in the feeling (whether they recognize this or not) that they are doing something that they want to do. They are spending time with friends and teachers who have all each independently chosen to be there. It’s easy to forget how programmed children’s lives can be. (Maybe because we as adults have accepted that as our lot!) Choosing and deciding are skills, too, and they are developed with practice.

So perhaps the perfect afterschool class is any one of a dozen that children can choose from. Maybe children choosing a class is what makes it perfect.

Making Online Learning Work for You

The necessity of work in front of a computer screen has certainly taken its toll this year. And we’ve learned that not every subject can be taught effectively over the internet. Nevertheless, Arts and Athletics and other educators have identified a number of classes that work well online and we’ve developed ways to make the most of these resources.

Coding is a natural and we’re exciting that Ms. Sora is offering a couple section of coding using a couple of different platforms, Kodable and Code Monkey. (You can learn more about our technology offerings here.

Outdoors/Indoors–Central to our afterschool programming these last months has been our outdoor adventure program, where children exercise and explore and learning about nature. We currently offer sections in English, Spanish, and French, and we’ve discovered that for children still learning the languages (i.e. they don’t speak French at home with their parents) we are able to augment the outdoor experience with an online class in which reinforces vocabulary and phrases and concepts that were covered in our outdoor class. And we are offering this language support for children who are signed up for outdoor adventures and no additional cost!

Other classes that work well online are chess, musical theater, and writing. The ideal afterschool class is one that uses a child’s academic skills without seeming to pile on more work. When a student can experience the sense of agency that comes with using the skills they’ve learned in school, that reinforces the benefits of their classroom experience, and promotes a love of learning.

We hope that we’ll soon be able to resume classes in our schools, but we will continue to look for ways to use online learning to support our offerings and create a better learning experience.

COVID Policies and Procedures

Arts and Athletics has cultivated a cautious but optimistic stance toward the coronavirus pandemic and we have developed routines that incorporate insights and best practices from the latest public health guidance. Naturally, it is a work in progress, but as we expand our programming and gradually resume activities in our cooperating schools, we will continue to adhere to the policies and procedure that keep our children and our staff members safe.

To read more about our COVID response, click here.

It’s a Positive Sign!

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve collaborated with our friends at the Level Group design firm to develop signage for our winter offerings. You’ll see the results posted at each of our schools, red/pink and blue/green banners that say: YES! Winter Enrollment is Now Open.

It’s such a simple message, but during these colder months we feel that it’s important to affirm that good things are happening amidst all the disruption and uncertainty.

Join us this winter if you can. We have regular outdoor and online afterschool (winter cycle goes through Friday, February 12th) and we have camps on the days that school is not in session. And keep us in mind for spring activities as well. We will begin registration for spring cycle by the end of January. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to offer some of our spring classes back in the school buildings.

But whether it’s with our crew or on your own or with friends…make sure that you’re getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. We want you to be happy and healthy too!!!

Travel During the Pandemic

The Arts and Athletics staff are minimizing travel during this holiday season, and those who are traveling are taking precautions of getting tested and quarantining before leaving and upon their return.

The New York Health Department continues to update its guidance on travel and staying safe during the winter months. See their winter plan here.

The team at Arts and Athletics has worked hard over the last ten months to learn all we could about operating safely during this unprecedented public health crisis. Like everyone, we wish we could have a quicker return to normalcy, but we’re also learning about patience and we remain committed to providing support for families and cool experiences for children…always prioritizing their safety and wellbeing.

Happy Holidays everyone. Please be safe!

Balto–Hero for Our Times

Last week, our winter adventurers took a walk down to 67th Street on the east side of Central Park to visit the sculpture of Balto the celebrated sled dog. In addition to this bronze rendering, there are also animated movies about him.

Balto’s back story (also told in a popular animated feature named for him) is that there was an outbreak of a disease called diphtheria in Nome, Alaska in 1925, and the people of that city were running out of medicine.

Teams of sled dogs came to the rescue, running across the tundra for nearly 700 miles in the harshest conditions to bring residents of Nome the supplies they needed. Way to go, Balto!

Read what the Central Park folks have to say about Balto here.

New York State Guidance for In-Person Instruction

On Monday, July 13th, the New York State Department of Health issued a report: “Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools.” I would encourage all of our parents and instructors to read the document and share your reflections about it. Afterschool staff at Arts and Athletics are studying and discussing all available information as we prepare for re-opening of schools in the coming weeks.

In simpler times, we (parents and providers alike) might have thought of Arts and Athletics as simply the local musical theater program, homework help provider, or physical activity coordinator, depending on the child’s specific interests. What’s been true all along, however, is that the role of Arts and Athletics is to work with parents and educators to determine the needs of the community and work cooperatively to address those needs. In the coming days we will open registration for fall cycle, offering programs that are informed by documents like the New York State Interim Guidance and ongoing consultation with our school leaders.

The model we are exploring for afterschool for the fall cycle is for self-contained groups of 15 or fewer students with two teachers who would stay together as a unit throughout the afternoon. The objective is to minimize the potential for infection by keeping the same group of children together from school dismissal until pickup at 6 p.m. and throughout the week (Monday through Friday) where possible. In this configuration all children would have some art, some physical activity, and some academic support during their afterschool hours.

Our staff will continue to take part in trainings provided by the New York State Department of Health and we will put together action plans that begin to adapt the Arts and Athletics programs to the needs of our school community.

In the meantime, stay healthy and stay in touch!

E-Learning with Arts and Athletics

Over the past three months since our schools and our programs transitioned to distance learning, the Arts and Athletics team has sought to bridge the gap with online classes and video lessons to reach out and engage our students and families. Amidst all of the uncertainty and fear brought to the foreground first by the COVID pandemic and then by the persistent crisis of racial injustice, it’s clear that education has a fundamental role to play. Basic to our mission is honoring children’s curiosity and encouraging them to ask why and to ask how. Even when the questions were about the rules of a game or a recipe in cooking class, how we as adults respond signals to children that their concerns are valid and that they have our support in their quest to figure things out.

Today we are faced with questions that defy easy answers, but our role as adults is still the same: encourage children’s questions and support their efforts to learn and grow. Going forward the Arts and Athletics team will look for ways to facilitate this work, starting with sharing the links below to the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library and to the Maxine Greene Institute, exploring the power and possibility of social imagination.

Schomburg’s Black Liberation List for Young Readers
The Maxine Greene Institute–Social Imagination

Click here to find out more!