And So It Begins: The MD Middle School Program

By Antwoine Johnson, MD Middle School Program Coordinator
Photos by AALEAD Staff

Yesterday was the long awaited first day of MD Middle School Programs and what a first day it was. The coordinators and youth alike have been waiting eagerly for this day; to get the ball rolling and to continue to AALEAD tradition of having incredible years and creating incredible memories. From my side, Loiederman Middle School started off with a bang.

The day started with formal introductions but as we got more familiar with each other, the energy grew significantly. Old and new faces were there to contribute to the bustling environment in the room. We started with creating name tags and allowed the opportunity for youth to express themselves verbally, showing a solid sense of self in such a way that they can properly convey themselves to their peers. The student’s interests ranged from working out and dancing, to acting and watching anime. We have a lot of AALEADers bringing a lot of things to the table!

There was then a time for the students to really take ownership of their program by creating the program rules. With the creation of rules such as “love and respect each other” and “no foul language,” it showed that Loiederman AALEADers had their heads on straight. AALEAD youth knew what was important but did not sacrifice the desire to make everyone feel welcomed and loved in the process. AALEAD is fortunate to have such dedicated and mature individuals in the program, not just at Loiederman, but all across programs.

To finish the day, we had an activity that connected the students as a team. The name of the game was “Yellow Brick Road.” As one could guess, this game is based off the Wizard of Oz. The students lined up and were put in groups of four. Each student in the group is either Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, or Cowardly Lion. Dorothy, who cannot talk, is the only one walking the yellow brick road, created with numbered yellow sheets of paper. The rest of the group is guiding her by saying what number she should step on, guessing what path Glinda the Witch (which was played by me!) is looking for. If they get the path wrong, the next group of four go. The game was challenging because the game was a lot of trial and error, but it helped create reliance, group thinking, and critical thinking among the youth.

The first day was stellar and it really has set the pace for the rest of the year. I cannot wait to see what else our AALEADers will learn from each other and the program. Here is to another great year! I am also looking forward to the Kick-Off BBQ where all of MD programs are invited to “kick-off” the new school year. Below is a picture from last year’s BBQ!

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