Tag Archives: after school program

Howard Beach has new, free after-school program

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

P.S. 207 in Howard Beach now has a new after-school program that benefits students beyond the school’s enrollment.

The program, which is open to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, is free and will accommodate any student who is able to arrive by 3 p.m., no matter which school he or she attends, said Michael Taylor, after-school program director for P.S. 207.

“The cornerstones of structure for the program are STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], literature and leadership,” Taylor said. “We provide a successful model for children to follow.”

The after-school program is called School’s Out New York City (SONYC) and is run by the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF). P.S. 207 is one of the 33 schools in which SASF established new programs for the 2014-15 school year.

The program runs five days a week from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

It mixes both intellectual and physical activities to fully engage the students, Taylor said. These include studies in core curriculum, newspaper writing, video editing and activities in gymnastics, basketball, yoga and Zumba, among others.

Educators will also work with students on leadership skills, engaging them in teen talk, community service, student counseling and peer mentoring.

“Our job is to make sure kids are not only occupied but that we keep them productive,” Taylor said. “With this model, the sky is the limit.”

Students will also work on programs such as Middle School Today, High School Tomorrow, where they will visit schools and learn different things about the high school application process to better prepare them for their futures.

Furthermore, the program will take students on field trips to places such as Coney Island and to productions such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“We were given top-quality resources to run the program which allows us to do a lot of different activities,” Taylor said. “Our desire is to get kids engaged and provide a fun learning environment.”

To learn more about the program, email ps207@sasfny.org or call 718-848-2700 and ask for Michael Taylor.




Balanced budget means cuts to FDNY, after school

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Children’s classrooms will remain unaffected in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 11th executive budget — but kids may have nowhere to go after the final bell rings.

The $68.7 million balanced budget includes no tax increases, but presents deep cuts to after-school programs, day care and fire companies while retaining more than 2,500 teacher positions the mayor proposed eliminating in his preliminary plan.

“Our budget won’t impose any new taxes on New Yorkers, maintains the strength of the NYPD and continues our strong support for public schools,” said Bloomberg on Thursday, May 3.

In Bloomberg’s first fiscal presentation in February, more than 2,500 teacher jobs were to be eliminated through attrition.
“We saved nearly 2,600 classroom teachers, and I am thrilled that the Department of Education has been funded at a level that avoids any further reduction in teachers,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

While teachers were saved, child care and fire companies face the ax.

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) called Bloomberg’s “lack of commitment” to children “nothing short of disgraceful.”

More than 40,000 children will be without day care and after-school programs if the budget cuts are not restored, UNH said.

Children’s Services budget was cut by $66 million.

Twenty fire companies will also close under Bloomberg’s plan.

The budget will be reviewed during the City Council’s hearings.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council to negotiate a budget that will not undermine our children, families and seniors,” Koslowitz said. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

The stage is their C.A.S.A.

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

CASA 148w

Nathalie Garcia never acted in a play before. She never sang in front of an audience or read lines from a script.

Now, illuminated in the spotlight of her elementary school’s stage, she is a star.

On Monday, March 19, the P.S./I.S. 113Q sixth-grader got her first shot at stardom, an opportunity gifted from an after-school arts program.

More than 30 fifth and sixth-grade students performed in “The Fabulous ‘50s Sock Hop,” a musical extravaganza featuring songs from “Grease,” “All Shook Up” and “Smokey Joes Café,” as part of Inside Broadway’s Cultural After-School Adventures (C.A.S.A.), a program sponsored by the New York City council that partners professional theatre troops with local schools to provide art education otherwise unavailable to students.

Now in its sixth year, C.A.S.A. boasts 19 after-school programs throughout Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. This marks its third year returning to 113Q, in part thanks to unyielding support from its principal, Anthony Pranzo.

“The Fabulous ‘50s Sock Hop” tells the story of a group of children, forbidden from dancing by “the powers that be” who think it inhibits the boys and girls from getting along, due to the competition it creates between the two genders. The kids work in tandem to assist the less-talented dancers, creating unity among them. When the adults spot the students’ camaraderie, they win back their previously-cancelled sock hop.

Every Monday and Wednesday since January, the budding Broadway stars gathered for 90 minutes to learn songs, choreography and dialogue from their “teaching artist,” Dennis Zepeda.

Although it is Zepeda’s first time working with C.A.S.A., he has a long history in musical theatre, including close ties with several community theatre groups and productions.

Zepeda hopes programs such as this can withstand the cuts many schools have been forced to make in recent years. Often, the arts programs are the first to go.

“I truly wish there were more types of this program available to public school students who may otherwise not get to experience the many joys and benefits theatre can bring them,” said Zepeda. “What C.A.S.A. brings to the community is the opportunity for kids to be involved in a project that teaches them responsibility, teamwork, and respect, all in the name of fun with the purpose of providing entertainment.”

What he feels is the best attribute of the program – it’s completely free.

During an afternoon rehearsal session, the students lined up in several rows across the stage – boys on the left and girls on the right.

Nathalie steps out of the crowd and delivers her line – a quip about the girls’ superior dancing abilities. With all the necessary attitude, she flips her hair, shoots the boys a look and steps back into line.

“The Hand Jive” begins to play, and the performers start to sing. Several of the actors have solos during this number, singing a line while dancing across the stage.

“The program shies away from having stars,” said Inside Broadway coordinator Katie McCallister. “It causes hard feelings.”

Because the program only has room for a small number of students, the school selects participants through a lottery system. Anyone hoping to participate in the show can submit his or her name for a chance to be picked.

Of any other after-school club offered at 113Q, the C.A.S.A. program is the most popular.

“Once I got the note, I thought I was good for it and I signed up,” said fifth-grader Matthew Ingrao, who has been playing piano since age four and cites his musical influences as Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

His favorite part of the C.A.S.A program is working with his peers.

“You actually get to interact with other students and discover their musical talent and share it with them,” said Matthew.

Zepeda feels the most worthwhile element of the program lies in establishing an adoration for the arts in the kids he teaches — an introduction to something he himself holds close to his heart.

“The reward that comes with knowing I could very well be responsible for the kids getting the ‘theatre bug’ is a welcomed one.”