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Tag Archive: Maryland Middle School Program


By Francine Gorres, Antwoine Johnson, Keo Xiong, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

T’was the Week of the Holiday Party, when all through the School

Not a student was present, the snow kept us Cool.

Students hurried with Coordinators to draw and Paint,

In the hope to finish the banners without too much Complaint.

Stars! Ornaments! And Paper

Such creativity we have that we cannot Taper!

When Tomorrow comes we will Celebrate

Not only the Holidays, but our ability to Cooperate!

AALEAD will be celebrating the Holidays with students tomorrow night at the Annual MD Holiday Party. Over the past few years it has become a great tradition for students to create their own decorations for the party. We are excited to see what the students have created and to greet new and old families!

First MD AALEAD Halloween Night a Success!

By Keo Xiong, AALEAD Staff
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff

A couple of witches, a cat, Tinkerbell, a football player, Mordecai, Superman, a baby, and twenty MD AALEAD youth joined MD AALEAD for its first spooktacular Halloween night last Thursday. Youth from all seven of our middle and high schools, and even former students now in college, came out to celebrate Halloween, went trick-or-treating, and watched a Halloween family classic, Hocus Pocus.

Students gathered at the MD AALEAD office to finish putting on costumes, paint faces, and meet their peers from other schools. Then, it was time for the fun part: students went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood for candy. For one student who came to the U.S. from China in 2010, this was her very first time participating in the American Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating. For others, like our high school students, this was their first time trick-or-treating since they were in elementary school.

Within only one hour of trick-or-treating, every student returned to the AALEAD office with a heavy bag full of candy, evidence of their high and abundant energy running from house to house. Students then ate dinner (and owl cupcakes!) and settled down to watch a Halloween movie. Many laughs, and even a loud scream, could be heard throughout the room as students watched Hocus Pocus together.

No matter where students come from or how old (or young) they are, everyone had a great time getting to know one another, sharing treats, and spending time with their AALEAD family. This night was a great success and a fun first for an event that will now be held annually.

Intern Introduction: Greetings from Romano!

By Romano Robles, AALEAD Intern
Photos by Romano Robles, AALEAD Intern

Greetings, my name is Romano, and I am the Fall 2013 MD Middle School Programs Intern! As mostly everyone knows, I’m also an AALEAD alumnus and attended MD High School Programs at Montgomery Blair High School. Currently, I’m attending Montgomery College, Rockville to pursue my Associate’s Degree in Computer Applications.

I first heard about AALEAD through a friend (who is also an AALEAD alumnus) when I was a freshman in high school and joined back in 2009. I thought it would be really helpful for me to join AALEAD because I recently immigrated to the United States in 2008 and everything was new for me. I also wanted to be more involved with the community. Aside from helping me become more active at school, AALEAD also offered me the opportunity to share my passion for dancing with the rest of my peers.  It is because of AALEAD that I’ve performed at several holiday parties and have also choreographed a dance for Fiesta Asia. Without AALEAD, I’d probably be dancing alone in my room and wouldn’t be where I am today.

I applied for the Fall 2013 AALEAD Programs Internship because I think it is a great opportunity to expand my skillset and learn more about youth work. I am expecting great outcomes and look forward to overcoming any obstacles that may come my way. Wish me luck!

Back-to-School Jitters

By Keo Xiong, AALEAD Staff

For the twentieth time in my life, I have a common case of the back-to-school jitters. No, I’m not a student, but I sure feel like one. Will the students like me? Who are the counselors? How long will it take before I can make my way through the school and know where everything is? The list of jitter-questions goes on and on.

Although school has already been in session for students, teachers, and staff for a month, Asian American LEAD’s (AALEAD) MD Middle School Program has yet to begin. While middle school youth were busy catching up with friends and settling into their new classes and schedules, this past month I have been busy meeting with youth over lunch recruitments, prepping lesson plans and curriculum, and getting pumped for the program, which starts on Monday, September 29!

The excitement exuded by returning AALEAD youth at lunch recruitments remind me that middle school is a place of exploration, learning, and fun. In between elementary school and high school, middle school youth are adjusting to a new schedule, exploring a range of interests, and taking part in numerous extracurricular and after-school programs that they enjoy. It’s great to know that many youth look forward to the start of AALEAD programs at their schools. I have even received a couple of phone calls from interested parents who want to sign their child up for the program. After briefly meeting former and prospective new AALEAD youth during lunch recruitment the past two weeks, I am less jittery and more than excited to begin sessions and start working with the high-energy and bright minds of the youth who make up the AALEAD family. It’s going to be a great year!

Farewell AALEAD!

Just a little over two years ago, I first walked through the doors of AALEAD, equally nervous and excited. Today, I will leave knowing what an incredible experience my time here has been, immensely gratifying, inspiring and memorable all at the same time.

I feel strongly that working with youth is a unique privilege. As an AALEAD coordinator, you bear the responsibility of helping guide them in their journey, of being a role model and never taking your time with them for granted. The funny thing is just how much we grow alongside our students. It’s cliché to say that kids teach us as we teach them, but in my case at least, it’s been absolutely true.

I will always look back fondly on being the coordinator for Digital Connectors for two summers and seeing the students accomplish so much in a short period of time. My time with middle school has been particularly special, as we cooked up a storm, delved into an array of cultural traditions and customs and learned how to work together and strengthen the bonds of friends and family.

It’s never easy saying goodbye, but I’m looking forward to staying in touch and witnessing all of the great things to come here in AALEAD.

Summer 2013 Intern: Vanessa Bui

Hi! I’m Vanessa, the Summer 2013 Maryland Middle and High School intern. Hailing all the way from Orange County, California, this is my first time in Washington D.C. and Maryland. Oh and before anyone asks…yes, my life is exactly like the TV shows The O.C. and The Hills. I received my Bachelor’s degree in History from Saint Mary’s College, an all women’s college across the street from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at the University of Southern California. When I’m not saving the world one person at a time, you can find me reading about history, obsessing over Welsh Corgi puppies (seriously have you seen their stubby little legs?!), or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Having fun on Splash Mountain...too much fun?

I am excited to be part of the AALEAD Summer Fusion program. As an aspiring social worker, I have learned that being genuine is one of the most important lessons in working with youth. I hope to make a positive impact on those in the programs so that they will learn to be more comfortable with themselves and in turn, inspire others to do the same.

Excited to be in D.C.!

In front of the White House

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

AALEAD MS Excited to be Back!

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!

HS Volunteer Orientation: AALEADers Give Back

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!

Photo Credit: Francine Gorres