After a day well spent acing tests, filling out worksheets, and engaging in academic discussions no one can blame the students at Aki Kurose Middle School for being a little exhausted when the day ends at 2:20pm. Before Extended Day, Aki Kurose’s after school tutoring program, begins the students are keen to get some time to relax. That’s where WINGS comes in, a forty-five minute afterschool program run by City Year and Seattle Parks and Recreation held between the typical school day and the after school classes. “WINGS is a time for the kids to have a little fun,” Mike Browne, Aki Kurose’s activities coordinator, tells us. “They deserve a break.” Mike Browne and the City Year team work together to come up with activities for the kids. This semester, the students are offered three activities to go to during WINGS: Mad Science, pARTy, and Know Crane, Know Gain.
Although “science” may make you shiver in fear at the thought of having to learn after school, Mad Science is anything but a boring lecture. It’s a place where all those exciting science experiments you did as a kid come back to life. Coke volcanoes, lava lamps, and the incredibly popular homemade ice-cream, the students went wild for Mad Science. Led by AmeriCorps members Chris Dinh, Alex Schlesinger, Taylor Marks, and Madison Moon City Year had just as much fun as the students doing the experiments. So much fun, the Mad Science team is thinking of continuing the group into next semester when the groups are typically replaced. “There’s always more experiments to do,” Alex Schlesinger remarked.
During pARTy, students expressed themselves through painting, drawing, and doodling. All students got excited over activities like painting pumpkins and coloring mandalas, a Buddhist symbol that represents the universe. When looking for more ideas for projects, Taylor Marks offered the advice that the kids should “do projects that they would enjoy, that is relevant to them,” which led to the much anticipated project of learning to draw graffiti letters. AmeriCorps members Natalie Henson, Sabbath McKiernan-Allen, Jenny Goodman, and Sarah Nichols all specialized in different art areas, and they worked together to think of cool activities.
Know Crane, Know Gain gave an option to students interested in releasing some of their pent up energy. AmeriCorps members Minh Tran, Grace Pak, Cheri Eshete, and Drew Young facilitated schoolyard favorites such as kickball, dodgeball, and sharks and minnows. Utilizing the Playworks model, students also learned important teamwork skills. “Students were able to collaborate with one another and switch up their game plan when they could see their initial strategy wasn’t working,” Cheri Eshete explains. But once the clock hits 3:15pm, the whistle blows and students and City Year members alike hit the classrooms for a few more hours of learning.