Yesterday, AALEAD at Argyle MS had a great day participating in a team-building activity and community service.
First, students played the Lily Pad activity. In groups of four, they were charged with the task of crossing a dangerous river (aka hallway) with only four lily pads. Accidentally step off a lily pad and an alligator (i.e. staff coordinator) gets it, making the task even harder! Each group practiced crossing the river as fast as they could and two groups even joined up to make a group of eight. Eventually, the group of eight was able to complete the task in under a minute! This activity motivates students to engage in leadership building and improve their communication skills, an important part of AALEAD’s key factor of Postive Self-Identity.
Students also worked together to make over 50 bagged lunches to donate to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless! This is an annual tradition AALEAD Middle School engages in to help teach students the value of community service and corresponds strongly with our key factor of Civic Engagement.
Every year, AALEAD Maryland students gather together toiletries and package them to donate to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless. Through this event, students are able to participate in the National Day of Service, learn about the legacy of MLK Jr., and best of all, make a difference in the lives of others. With the help of our students, AALEAD collected over fifty large bags of toiletries this year, including everything from shampoo to toothbrushes and toothpaste to toilet paper.
This event reinforces one of AALEAD’s four key factors, civic engagement. Students also created and performed skits asking, “What would MLK do?” in scenarios ranging from bullying to texting while driving. We hope to encourage students to keep community service as an important part of their lives and to value the work of civil rights leaders.
Photo Credits: Surjeet Ahluwalia and AALEAD Student
The end of winter break and the start of the new year means the return of AALEAD Middle School programs!
Programs at Argyle and Parkland Middle Schools started right where we left off as students first participated in a workshop addressing what it means to be “cool” and “not cool.” Youth broke into small groups to talk about whether they see being cool as being popular and choosing risky behaviors or being cool as being considerate of others and a good student. They then shared their opinions with the larger group with staff serving to facilitate the discussion. This ties into one of AALEAD’s key success factors, Positive Self-Identity, as many of the youth we work with struggle to find balance between the expectations of being a teenager with the need to do well in school.
On the lighter side, students also participated in a lesson about the origin of sesame seeds, their importance in Asian culture as well as their nutritional benefits. This was followed up with a light, healthy sesame seed snack!
There isn’t a better way to spread holiday cheer… than volunteering throughout the year!
Last night, 21 of our Maryland High School AALEADers participated in the first ever High School Volunteer Orientation. Held in the social hall at the Wheaton Community Recreation Center, the energy and anticipation in the room prior to the orientation was palpable. In order to encourage active involvement in the community and civic engagement, our high school AALEADers will be assigned to volunteer at one of our five middle school program sites this year. In these roles, our AALEADers will not only be assisting our program coordinators with various activities, but they will also be setting an example for the younger students as well.
As AALEADers were handed their Volunteer Handbooks, they expressed enthusiasm and excitement about volunteering at their former alma maters and serving as role models for our younger AALEADers. After going over AALEAD’s Volunteer Policies, students were eager to hear about their pairings and couldn’t wait to get started.
It is inspiring to see our older youth step up to the plate and dedicate their time to not only the greater APA and DMV communities at large, but also, to their brothers and sisters in our AALEAD family as well. We are proud of our AALEADers for continuing to give back to the community and showing the world what the AALEAD family is all about: compassion, caring, and commitment. Way to go, AALEADers!
For the third holiday season in a row, M.S. AALEADers are participating in Macy’s Believe campaign, which donates $1 to Make-a-Wish Foundation for each letter to Santa that Macy’s receives. Youth learn about the mission of Make-a-Wish and a few stories of children with life-threatening diseases that received a very special gift, from seeing snow for the first time to going to the Thanksgiving Day parade.
They’re then given the task of writing a letter to Santa to help support this great cause. While many of the letters focus on dreams of IPhone 5s, Legos or getting a puppy, there are some that show our youth have a few other things on their mind:
“Dear Santa, I have been nice all year. I help do chores around the house when I’m not even asked to….I also stayed by my brother’s side during the time he had a brain tumor and was receiving treatment. Also, I get outstanding grades. For doing all this, I ask you for a Black Rock Shooter Coat. The same one from the anime, please.”
“Dear Santa Claus, I have been nice and sometimes silly all this year. I infer that I’ve made people’s day by my randomness. Or at least a smile. Now I want to get upcoming games from 2013! Also I want to spend more time with my mom. I only get to see her for 2 hours a week.”
“Dear Santa, I wish I can get enough money to buy my grandmother a plane ticket to come to America from the Philippines. I want to buy my grandma a plane ticket to America because my whole family wants her to come here and that is what she wants too.”
Of course, you’d never know of the difficult circumstances these youth face because many of them hide it so well and like the 2nd letter writer, focus on making others happy. Here at AALEAD, we’re so lucky to have the opportunity to work with such amazing students and hopefully brighten up their day a bit in turn.
Last night, four AALEAD Middle School students had the amazing opportunity to participate in an annual celebration of people and organizations devoted towards making a difference in the lives of youth. They were given the important job of serving hors d’ouevres and mingling with attendees as they arrived. We’re so proud of our youth for their willingness and enthusiasm and the poise they showed throughout the evening. The four students who participated were Ella and Michelle from Loiederman and Sylvia and Jose from Argyle. Job really well done you guys!
We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for giving our youth this opportunity. The Collaboration Council is one of our many amazing community partners and a huge part of what we do in Montgomery County.
On the eve of the national election, AALEAD youth at Argyle and Parkland Middle Schools learned about the democratic process firsthand by participating in elections in their after-school programs.
Students chose from a variety of different positions to run for, from President to Judge to Council Member. Students who didn’t run belonged to campaign teams, helping their peers write speeches, make posters and talk about what would go over well with voters. Those who were running worked to find an angle to win the election, such as Kevin at Parkland who, running for Judge, talked about how being new meant that he could be the most objective.
This activity strongly promotes AALEAD’s key factors by encouraging students to pursue leadership and take ownership of their after-school program, push towards a greater understanding of their value in the world and what they can contribute and finally, begin to have more investment in democracy and its importance to American society.
Students also really enjoyed the opportunity to speak in front of their peers and talk about what they could personally bring to the table to AALEAD.
Brother and sister Arrafi and Jasmine running for Prez and VP
Welcome back everybody! We’re so thrilled to see our students again and get back to the business of what makes AALEAD awesome.
The new year brings new challenges, new excitement and best of all, new opportunities to make and eat sushi!
Yep, making sushi has become an AALEAD Middle School staple over the years, so we dusted off the bamboo mats, got the rice cookers humming and the seaweed, crab and cucumber fresh and ready to go.
It can’t be said how much students love making sushi. Among the reasons why:
–It’s hands-on, collaborative and teaches them a skill that they can show to friends and family.
–It’s a familiar access point to Asian American culture, allowing students to embrace their backgrounds in a fun and interesting way.
–Students have a self-made end product they get to enjoy and take home.
These outcomes fall strongly within AALEAD’s key success factor of Positive Self-Identity, which focuses on improving students’ self-esteem, expanding their horizons and allowing them opportunities to be proud of their culture and own unique abilities.
Check out the pictures below from programs at Parkland M.S.:
On Thursday, June 14, 2012 AALEAD students from the D.C. Secondary School Program, Middle School Program, and Maryland High School Program gathered together to celebrate the end of the year. In addition to the AALEAD students, parents, mentors and volunteers were also in attendance equaling to over 120 attendees at our End of the Year BBQ Celebration! During the celebration students enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs, participated in relay races and recognized graduating 8th grade students and high school students.
As a special farewell gift, 8th grade students received certificates of graduation from AALEAD staff and High School Seniors received personalized scrapbooks with letters from staff and students. One senior gave a speech at the end to reflect on his experience with AALEAD. He spoke to his experience with AALEAD and reminded his fellow students about the importance of surrounding yourself with good people because it will take you far in life. It was truly a special moment as staff began to witness the growth of their students into young adulthood. From introducing new staff members to the AALEAD family, to phenomenal flash mob performances, to the small intimate conversations about self-confidence and potential with students, this year has truly been special in more ways than one. Congratulations AALEAD on a very successful school year of after school programs! What’s next? SUMMER PROGRAMS!!!
Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! On Saturday, May 19, 2012 over 100 AALEAD students participated in the first ever AALEAD Flash Mob Dance performance at Fiesta Asia! Students and staff had been working diligently on this dance for the past four to five weeks and even featured dances choreographed by the students themselves. A sea of orange filled Pennsylvania Ave and it was definitely a moment that will be remembered forever. In addition to performing, students enjoyed spending time with their friends, family, mentors, and volunteers by visiting different vendors and watching other performances at Fiesta Asia. We ended the day with a cultural parade cheering “A-A-LEAD! A-A-A-LEAD!” People standing in the crowd cheered as we marched with pride and smiling faces. Congratulations to all of the students and staff for putting together such an amazing show and for bringing together the AALEAD community like never before! Have a peek at our special performance!