Summer has once again flown by, the long summer days traded for early mornings, backpacks and homework. WordPlay's Northside writing center welcomed over 100 children during our 6 weeks of summer programming, ranging from Summer Scholars, an academic enrichment camp for students in grades 1-8, to our new Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam team for high school students, Bookbinding and Short Fiction workshops, and the ever-popular WordPlay Saturdays.
Heading into the new school year, our third since opening in September, 2012, we have been working exhaustively to make our after-school program a huge success. Free to all students, WordPlay Scholars provides one-on-one attention, pairing each child with a trained tutor. Our first priority is to build relationships, cultivating a strong sense of community among the volunteers, students and their families that quickly transcends the walls of our writing center. WordPlay Scholars offers literacy skills, homework help, focused academic tutoring, writing instruction and social - emotional learning to K-8 students Monday - Thursday 2:30 - 5 pm. Our 5-6 pm time slot will now be the Happy Hour, with a different creative theme offered each day. First priority in WordPlay Scholars is given to students whose families meet free lunch criteria, and parents must attend an orientation prior to having their child enroll. The Happy Hour is open to all students K-8, but space is limited and all students must be enrolled before they can begin.
Our high school WordUP program in partnership with Aiken New Tech High School continues this year, when we will reach an exiting milestone - a few students from our first cohort will be completing the requirements for graduation and are preparing to enter a four-year college program. WordUP is designed to catch students most in need of additional support to complete their grade level, providing them with personal skills to better cope with daily stress, increase confidence and self-awareness while addressing academic weaknesses. In the two years that WordUP has been underway, we have seen 100% of our students pass on to the next grade level, some of whom have made the honor roll for the first time in their lives and gained acceptance into the prestigious GE Scholars program, and all are preparing to enter the world of higher education where previously many believed that opportunity didn't exist for them.
We are bringing a new program to our high school lineup, and can hardly contain our excitement over this one. Louder Than a Bomb, the world's largest youth poetry slam, was founded in Chicago in 2001. Along with the Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati and the non-profit arts organization, Elementz, WordPlay is proud to be a coordinating partner for LTAB Cincy. We will be managing four high school teams, including two new school partnerships with dePaul Christo Rey, and Seven Hills High School. Look to our article in the October issue of the Northsider for more details on Louder Than a Bomb and our new LTAB Coordinator and slam poetry coach, Desirae Hosley, along with assistant coach Elese Daniel.
WordPlay Saturdays continue with a lineup of creative programs starting at the top of each hour from noon - 4 pm, all promoting a love of reading and writing through project-based activities. We will have a table reserved for students spanning grades K-12 who need quiet homework help in all subjects. Please visit our website, www.wordplaycincy.org, for details on the schedule of Saturday programs for students in grades K-8, the Writer-in-Residence program, plus engaging short-term creative workshops that are offered throughout the year.
And don't forget, literacy spans all subjects! Our STEM Scholars program is open to Jr. and Sr. High School students interested in gaining hands-on experience from professionals in the fields in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This is a highly selective program with just a few spots remaining, please call 513-260-8129 for more details on enrolling your student.
We are very proud to announce that through a generous grant from the Andrew Jergens Foundation, we will be launching our new WordPlay Writer-in-Residence program in mid-September. This is a very unique and exciting pilot, which will bring professional writers and educators to WordPlay to work with each of our students throughout the year.
by Libby Hunter, co-founder and Executive Director of WordPlay Cincy.