By Diane Bui, MDHS Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD MD Staff

After-School programs in Maryland start THIS WEEK! We are so excited to be back in our schools, reconnecting with returning youth, and welcoming new youth to programs. Youth in schools today are busier than ever. Between magnet programs, IB classes, AP course loads and a number of after-school activities, it’s no surprise our youth are always on the move. This got our MD staff talking about when we were younger, and how our school and after-school activities shaped who we are today. This week, we want to share a bit about ourselves and why we’re so excited for this upcoming school year!

Ari Pak
MD Programs Manager

Favorite School Memory: My favorite memory includes Mr. Danny. He was one of the after school programs youth workers when I was in elementary school. He taught me how to draw, included me in games, and made school a place where I felt welcomed and safe.

After-School Activities: During elementary school I did karate and art club. I also participated in a daily aftercare program where youth workers provided structured activities. During middle school and high school I did National Science Honor Society, cross country, track, soccer, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Most Excited for this year with AALEAD: I’m excited for change! I look forward to learning about how each AALEAD youth has grown and changed over the summer. I am also excited for our AALEADers to continue their growth with the support of their new coordinators! Each of our  MD staff is taking on a familiar but new group of program sites this year, and I am looking forward to the original and creative new opportunities that each AALEADer will get to experience with their AALEAD staff.

 Diane Bui
MDHS Program Coordinator
Blair HS, Einstein HS

Favorite School Memory: My favorite school memories always involved the weeks leading up to the first day of school. I love organization and I love school/office supplies, so shopping for supplies and preparing my backpack for the first day of school was always my favorite part of the school year. I loved color coordinating everything (as you can tell by my  all-purple ensemble above) and having everything match. It was my way of mentally preparing for the year ahead.

After-School Activities: I was involved in Drama Club Tech and Stage Crew for six years in middle and high schools. I was also part of National Honor Society and Thespian Honor Society in high school and was involved in Girl Scouts from 1st-11th grade.

Most Excited for this year with AALEAD: For the past two years,I have been working with middle school youth and I am so excited to transition to the high schools! I already have so many ideas and the returning youth have been so helpful and supportive that I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us. I’m anxious but super excited to learn more from the high school youth!

 Mecca McPherson
MDMS Program Coordinator
Loiederman MS, Newport Mill MS

Favorite School Memory: My favorite memory in high school was senior skip day! A bunch of teenagers carpooled together to the beach and ate and languished in the sun for a whole day without being detained by truancy officers. It was awesome!

After-School Activities: In high school, I played clarinet in the marching band, volleyball, soccer, and tutored low-income elementary students in an after-school program.

Most Excited for this year with AALEAD: I’m most excited to meet, create, share in new memories with the youth in AALEAD programs!

Shanice Lo
MDMS Program Coordinator
Julius West MS, Parkland MS

Favorite School Memory: It was the first day of my 1st grade. I remember waking up early and putting on my white uniform that morning as my mother helped tie the blue ribbon nicely. I got ready for the first assembly at school. My classmates and I were singing the school anthem loudly with excitement. We were all excited to see each other again after the summer were looking forward to another fun year at school.

Most Excited for this year with AALEAD: This year will be my 3rd year in AALEAD. I’m so excited to be in the two new schools, Julius West Middle School and Parkland Middle School. I can’t wait to meet all the AALEADers and build a strong, safe, and supportive community for them.

 YLan Nguyen
MDHS Program Coordinator
Kennedy HS, Wheaton HS

Favorite School Memory: When I was in elementary school, my favorite school memory always revolved around recess. I loved going outside and playing games with my friends.

After-School Activities: My favorite clubs in high school were the Hip Hop Dance Team and Stage Crew

Most Excited for this year with AALEAD: For this school year, I’m looking forward to creating new memories with high school youth and our field trips!


Be on the look out for a few of our community events this month to highlight being back in school and celebrating our Maryland youth!

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