What Have You Discovered?

By Katie Watanabe, DC ES Summer Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of Chelsea Iorlano, Development & Communications Associate

After five weeks of excitement, education, and empowerment, our DC Elementary School Summer Program concluded with a closing ceremony called Discovery Day at Thomson Elementary School last Friday. Our youth displayed the numerous projects that they have been working on all summer, from community service projects such as Project Linus blankets to presentations by aspiring future engineers, and even a final performance of “Keep Your Head Up.” The question of the evening, however, was one directly tied to our theme of “Discovery;” what, we asked the youth, did they discover during their summer with AALEAD?

AALEADers and their final projctsAALEAD Photobooth

We received a great variety of answers, in the form of both internal reflection and external learning. Some of our youth discovered our principles of “teamwork,” “leadership,” and “confidence” within themselves. Others made discoveries about the world around them, such as the “science of volcanoes” or “Southeast Asian culture.” No matter what the individual discovery was, all of them spoke enthusiastically about the new knowledge gained and experiences had throughout the course of the summer.AALEADer Discovery Sharing 1

AALEADer Discovery Sharing 2

It was a bittersweet moment for me when the buzz of excited youth, parents, teachers, and guests faded into the side conversations of staff members folding up tables and packing away decorations. Still, even though my time working with the DCES youth and staff has come to a close, I still have my own discoveries of the summer. Working with AALEAD, I have discovered the compassion, talent, and brilliance within each individual youth; the steady support of a motivated and unified staff; the importance of AALEAD’s mission to empower these amazing students; and, most importantly, how to be confident and “keep my head up” going forward into the future.

AALEAD DC ES Discovery Staff

Thank you for such a wonderful summer!


Read on below to hear what parents of youth in this year’s DC Elementary School Summer Discovery Program had to say!


“Just wanted to send a quick note of thanks for all that you and your staff do to help ensure a wonderful summer experience for the THOMSON AALEAD participants. You have a great team of people who are intelligent, caring, charismatic, and very nurturing. Trust me your hard work and patience doesn’t go unnoticed and as a parent I am grateful for programs like yours. Stay encouraged and be blessed.” – Ms. F

Youth and Parents Visiting Exhibitions

“AALEAD is a great program. It helped my child improve her skills and become more confident. I wish that this program continues next year.” – Mr. Z

AALEAD youth and parents at Discovery Day

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