By Keo Xiong, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Over 130 AALEADers and their families, mentors, board member, and staff celebrated the season’s holidays this past Friday at the Holiday Park Senior Center. As some of our afterschool programs wrapped up for the year last week, the gathering of family, friends, food, and fun at the holiday party was a perfect way to end the year strong and joyous.
Members of the middle school and high school youth councils had begun planning for the holiday party in November, deciding on the theme and decorations. The week leading up to the party, AALEADers enthusiastically created decorations, including 3-D snowflakes, a large tree, paper ornaments, and beautiful posters and banners. At the event, these youths were in charge of hanging up the decorations, and went above and beyond to create a festive room and mood just right for the celebration.
After set-up and staff introductions, families and youth were invited to enjoy a meal before settling down to watch the skills and abilities of AALEADers who performed in a talent showcase, emceed by high school students Jessa and Ram. The talents on the stage that night were phenomenal; ukuleles, a violin, K-Pop dances, and soulful vocals filled the room with delight, smiles, and cheers from every corner of the room.
In a humorous dance-off competition following the talent showcase, AALEAD youth showed off their dancing abilities for prizes. Known as “back-dancing,” this dancing game requires students to pair up, stand back-to-back, and invent dance moves inspired by funny, awkward, and strange situations, such as slipping on ice, being chased by bears, and acting as zombies. Our very own Middle School Program intern and alumus, Romano, participated as well. It was great to see the youth enjoying themselves and having fun with peers from all across the Maryland program.
During this activity, Sunny, our Parent Coordinator, held a meeting for the parents and guardians of the youth. Sunny shared program highlights from the past four months of programming, talked about the resources we have, and provided a space for the parents and guardians to meet one another.
This year’s holiday party was a success and we look forward to more events next year where we can bring together the youth, their families, mentors, and supporters to celebrate the achievements and talents of AALEADers.
Before signing off, some “thank yous” are in order. First and foremost, thank you AALEAD youth for the fun and joy you bring to AALEAD, for your hard work, participation in, and dedication to the program, your fellow AALEADers, and staff. Thank you to the families of AALEAD youth for attending and celebrating with us. To mentors, you are an invaluable part of the program and we thank you for joining us and your mentees at the event. For the delicious food, we thank Red Maple, Chicken Basket, Blue Pearl Buffet, Giant, Costco, and Noodles and Co. for their kind and generous donations. And finally, thank you to the great staff at AALEAD for organizing another successful holiday party, and the board members who help make this all possible.
Happy Holidays from AALEAD!