GRANTING WISHES

This holiday season marked the fifth year that YouthQuest has participated in Macy’s Believe campaign, which donates $1 to Make-A-Wish for every letter written to Santa and collected in stores. The afterschool program set an ambitious goal of sending 50,000 letters to Kris Kringle on National Believe Day (Dec. 9), when the retailer doubles its donation amount. Not only did the students and staff meet that goal, they surpassed it with a total of 50,673 letters.

HISTORY WITH A BEAT

Over the past several weeks, Kuungana African Drum & Dance Company has visited YouthQuest students at Doyle-Ryder Academy, Brownell STEM Academy and Potter Elementary. The organization has provided students with an engaging way to learn about the history of music. Students have learned the moves to a traditional African dance known as “The Harvest,” created their own “Steel Drums of Trinidad,” and participated in a variety of activities that have helped increase self-awareness and self-pride.

VOICE AND CHOICE

Every YouthQuest site has its own Youth Advisory Council, comprised of students who identify and coordinate volunteer service projects and different activities. At Dye Elementary, for instance, YAC students developed a strategy to help their site meet their Santa letter-writing goal (see above) and also coordinated a gingerbread-house making activity for fellow students. By involving students in programming decisions, they’re more likely to feel ownership of the program – which benefits everyone!

HAVE A LITTLE FAITH

As students work toward the 2017 ArtQuest – a major art exhibition featuring more than 2,000 pieces of artwork – they have been learning about a different artist and his or her techniques each month. In December, the featured artist was Faith Ringold, who is best known for her African quilts. To get a sense of Faith’s style, elementary students read her book, “Tar Beach,” and created their own fabric-inspired prints.