Wednesday, January 9, 2008


What's a program without cool events? Well, not a very cool program - at least to the outside community. The Manchester 21st CCLC is quite aware of this fact and has created some cool events to highlight itself and its students in the community.

The first event of the school year (that I can remember) was Lights On! Afterschool Programs, which is a nationwide celebration of afterschool programs in the United States. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the national chair and the Afterschool Alliance is the biggest proponent of it, being the nation's largest afterschool advocate. The idea is to have afterschool programs across the country hold special events/fundraisers/something related to their program on or around a specific day. Even the Empire State Building was lit up in observance of it this year. The Manchester 21st CCLC worked together with PlusTime NH, some outside providers, the Boys and Girls Club, Nellie Mae, and the NH Department of Education (I believe). PlusTime and the program orchestrated a really cool sampling of arts and crafts events with demonstrations, karaoke, LEGO sets, and Dance Dance Revolution stations as well as some nutritious food for the kids. Since the afterschool program is in 11 schools in Manchester, we actually had to hold this event twice. So for two consecutive Mondays I moved cafeteria tables, set up banners, set up an 8 foot inflatable light bulb, watched kids, handled some logistical situations, coordinated demonstration times, and then helped break everything down. There were members of the PlusTime board of directors, the Mayor (and the proclamation he brought), the Governor's proclamation was also on hand, DoE people were there, and of course hundreds of kids and some of their parents. It was quite good.

The second event I had to deal with was the Harlem Rockets. They are basically a comedy basketball team that shows up, wheels and deals and all around pwns the team you assemble to face them while delivering positive messages to kids infused with humor. It's fantastic for kids, middle school down to elementary, and can potentially be a great fundraiser if you can get a lot of people to show up and buy tickets. There's a 7 foot tall guy, some acrobatic dunks, and kids get to take home tons of autographed stuff while watching, in my case, their teachers and principles get trounced in a game of b-ball. The Harlem Rockets event happened on October 30th. The following night I went down to Boston to see a show at downstairs at the middle east. it was a fantastic time but then Boston closed all of the routes to 93 north for some reason so I had to drive around into Cambridge until I found the way out so I didn't get home until 3 am. but man was that fun.

When the holiday season was approaching I took the initiative and got the program involved with the Manchester Christmas Parade... err, now called the Christmas on Elm St. Parade - because the city no longer runs it, rather Intown Manchester, a nonprofit charged with keeping the central downtown area of Manchester vibrant, runs it. I filled out some forms, had some meetings with the site coordinators and BAM! we were in a parade. Of course, it wasn't exactly that easy. You have to be all decorated and we didn't have the time (read: desire/want) to do a float so we told kids to make themselves look like presents. Kids showed up all bundled up with their parents and we shoved some wrapped boxes around them and walked along the road giving out candy canes and waving to people beside my site director's car - a mini cooper, for which she made a gigantic bow and attached it to the top. Kids loved it, so did parents, and it was a real good way to reinvigorate some of the people that don't often get to see the children they serve. The only bad thing about the parade was that it was originally postponed. This meant that my site director and I had to show up to the school district and call every person who had expressed interest and get a general idea if people wanted to go through with it. Turns out they did - so we made it happen. I mean, I had just purchased burton mittens and a winter hat for cheap at snowboard jones and I had organized the whole event so there was no way I was not walking in that parade.

The showcase even is coming up soon...

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