DC AALEAD Students Showcase The Crossroads of Their Lives

Written by Diana Tran, DC Middle School Coordinator

On March 31, middle and high school students in AALEAD’s DC programs came together at the Chinese Community Church to put on a stellar Showcase for their friends, family, and community members. The theme of this year’s Showcase was “Crossroads.” Similar to the hero’s journey in literature, our hope was for students to be able to share pieces of their lives whether it be the ups or the downs and celebrate their growth and triumphs over the course of the year.

To better understand the Crossroads theme, it can be broken down into three units:

  • Unit 1: Pack Your Bags
  • Unit 2: At the Intersection
  • Unit 3: It’s About the Journey, not the Destination

In Unit 1, students explored their identities and built practical skills that could help them face future obstacles – whether it be time management, how to work on a team, public speaking, or event planning. In the preparation phase, students also had the opportunity to learn more about their identities and start thinking about their personal narratives.

DC AALEAD Youth getting ready “backstage” during Showcase 2022

Unit 2 was all about making decisions, taking action, and putting the leadership skills that they learned into practice. Being “at the intersection” was a testament to our youth’s virtues and showed us that they are all willing and able to step up to the challenge, overcome the obstacles that they face, and come out on top. The peak of the semester was Showcase itself where students presented individually or in groups about topics of their choice.

To close out the Spring 2022 semester, Unit 3 offered students the opportunity to reflect on their journey, celebrate their unique identities, show gratitude to each other, and embrace their personal narratives with grace, compassion, and pride. We are so incredibly proud of our youth and the work that they have put in over the school year both inside and outside of AALEAD programs. We are so pleased to share back our students’ projects from the DC Spring 2022 Showcase with you all.

To open the night, middle school students presented their personal essays and artwork. Audience members truly felt that they witnessed the growth of these young middle school students during their performances as they overcame their fears of public speaking and shared their intimate perspectives on bullying, overthinking, and insecurity. To see artwork and essays from the middle school students, please click here.

High school students worked on a variety of presentations and projects in groups. Our first group of students created a Kahoots game to energize our crowds and find fun ways to engage with the audience.

Our guests had a great time competing with each other. It was truly a race to first place! Congratulations Chris and thank you to all our guests for participating!

After the Kahoot, high school students Jamia and Tange presented on mental health. Their presentation was accompanied by a skit put on by their peers to demonstrate how to overcome obstacles and manage their stress. To see the presentation, click here.

Amongst our high school students, we have a select number of youth who serve on DC AALEAD’s Youth Council, where students are able to hone their leadership skills to create and execute their own events and projects. This year, our Youth Council learned more about food insecurity in DC and led a fundraiser with Bread for the City DC, where they raised over $400. Congratulations to these spectacular students! We are so proud of all of your hard work.

Continuing in the spirit of celebrating and recognizing our incredible students, we also had a transition ceremony to honor the transition of our 8th grade students to high school and the transition of high school seniors to graduates and future college students.

Though AALEAD is just one small part of students’ lives, we can only hope to create a lasting impact and provide a space for our students to learn more about themselves, their peers, and the world around them. We had such a wonderful semester exploring Crossroads with our students. Showcase was just one of many of their successes this year and we feel lucky to have been able to share these moments with friends, family, and members of our community.

Congratulations to our students and staff on a wonderful semester! We look forward to all of the amazing things our DC youth will do moving forward. Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. We hope to see some familiar faces in our summer programs as we continue to adventure, together – Crossroads: Your Journey Awaits…

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