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SASF Arts Presents: February in a Flash

Feb 16, 2017

This month, SASF’s Arts Department is committed to infusing creativity and leadership into their activities to inspire self-growth. From Black History Month to #SASFdanceoff, there’s something for everyone to participate in! Check out some of the highlights below.

#ICYMI Black History Month: Feminist Figures in Watercolor

In celebration of Black History Month, students from P.S. 207 in Queens created watercolor portraits of African-American feminists. Sojourner Truth, Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde and Frances M. Beal were just some of the fearless female advocates captured by these talented artists.

Sneaker Design Project at the SASF 3 vs 3 Basketball Tournament

In recent years, sneaker culture has evolved from customers simply collecting sneakers to admiring how the shoe is designed. With the use of art materials and sneaker templates, facilitated by an SASF teaching artist, students will use their creativity to design their own sneaker at our annual 3 vs 3 Basketball Tournament.

Stay tuned for some of our highlighted designs!

SASF’s Songwriters Circle Contest

Here at SASF, we celebrate our aspiring young musicians and continue to promote the development of new songwriting talent through various opportunities. SASF’s Songwriters Circle is for students of all ages who aspire to become singers and songwriters. Through this contest, we will teach our students the craft, while giving them a platform to shine!

SASF Arts programs explore what it means to positively impact community, here and abroad. This year’s songwriting contest celebrates The Courage to Take the Lead.

Students will submit original work that will consist of both music and lyrics. Songs will be judged based on melody, composition, originality and lyrics.

All participants of the Songwriters Contest will be featured on our website and receive a certificate!

  • 4th place winners will receive Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonicas
  • 3rd place winners will receive a Williams Legato Digital Piano with ESS1 Essentials Pack
  • 2nd place winners will receive a Singtrix Party Bundle Home Karaoke System
  • The grand prize winner will receive a Focusrite Musician’s Home Recording Starter Kit

So You Think You Can Dance, SASF? 2017 Instagram Dance Challenge

Launching soon, SASF performing arts is hosting its first ever Instagram dance challenge. SASF Arts will choose a song for each school to create a one-minute dance routine.

Videos will be critiqued for originality, creativity, school spirit and more! Selected submissions will be reviewed, posted onto the SASF Instagram. Be sure to cast your “like” or vote. You can choose our first #SASFdanceoff winner! Follow @SASFNY and stay tuned to find out more about #SASFdanceoff

Pass the Paleo Tacos! SASF’s First “Chopped” Cooking Competition

On December 28th, 2016, SASF hosted its first ever Elementary School Division Chopped Cooking Competition at PS 134 in the Bronx. Each of the four elementary schools that participated brought special techniques learned in nutrition classes and in their home kitchens to create original healthy dishes. PS 9 and PS 134 in the Bronx, PS 309 in Brooklyn and PS 96 in Queens took flavor to the next level, drawing competition inspiration from SASF Food Explorers, a nutrition curricula many sites have incorporated into their wellness programs since the summer of 2015.

“We start with washing our hands and putting our hairnets on!” Marlo Dublin, SASF’s Health and Wellness Manager announced as the students and staff prepared for what was sure to be an intense day of competing.

Marlo added, “And remember, much like in the operating room, once we wash our hands, we don’t touch a thing!”

SASF’s own version of Chopped, a popular reality cooking show, hosts a friendlier competition. Students and spectators alike are there to learn more about nutrition…and of course, to have some fun along the way!

“Cooking competitively gives students confidence and the valuable life experience of working creatively in teams,” Marlo shared. “I hope all participants were inspired by this Chopped competition and are now motivated to continue exploring the culinary arts.”

For the first round, students worked together to create a special snack dish for our judges. Each round was judged on creativity, flavor, texture, presentation and nutritional value. The competition was fierce, but with the support of SASF staff, students thought on their feet. Strategy and planning was key.

“Let’s do a berry parfait!,” a student from P.S. 134 exclaimed.

“I learned how to peel a carrot like this from my 13-year-old cousin, “ another student shared with his peers.

After a quick mid-day lunch, participants jumped back in for the final round: the main dish. The pressure was on.

From Paleo Tacos to a “Sidekick Salad” with a “Power Punch” dressing, SASF judges had their work cut out for them.

At the end of the competition, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies were awarded to sites based on total scores. Every student left a winner with a Chef’s Hat Medal of Honor for all of their hard work.

Shanon Morris, Director of Sports and Wellness, was impressed with the engagement of participating elementary schools at the event. She hopes to replicate it for students of all ages. “Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, and the Elementary Chopped Competition was a great example of just that. Every person, staff member and student were actively engaged, sharing ideas, cutting, mixing and tasting. Food has a funny way of bringing people together!”

Staff Spotlight: Meet Kyle Nieves

IS 318K alumnus, Program Director, Kyle Nieves, gives back as an education leader and advocate for his students’ achievements. Kyle’s dedication was recognized in his recent PASEsetter award nomination letter. Partnership for After School Education or PASE, is a child-focused organization that promotes and supports quality afterschool programs, especially those that serve students from high-need communities.

Below is Kyle’s PASEsetter nomination letter.

Kyle Nieves is Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation’s After School Program Director at Middle School 318 (MS 318) in Brooklyn. In partnership with Principal Windley and under Kyle’s leadership, the after school program’s Chess Team won First Place at the 2016 Chess Nationals in Indianapolis. Chess consists of setting and achieving long-term goals. It is a game played and won either as an individual or as part of a team. Thoughtful intellect and long-term sustained foresight determine the outcome of a winning match. Kyle Nieves is the embodiment of a chess master in the realm of after school education. Kyle’s aspirations as an education leader began when he was a student at MS 318. He felt empowered to provide technical support to students and teachers at the school as he learned AV (audio visual) skills in his after-school program when he was just in seventh grade. As a proud MS 318 alumnus, Kyle demonstrated his commitment and dedication to giving back to his community by joining the SASF team in 2013 and embarking on a career that emphasizes the importance of recognizing student achievement, and allows him to implement innovative programming. He is dedicated to youth development principles that produce successful graduates who learn to nurture their aspirations and master their talents. His commitment to his students include developing a cadre of alumni like himself by providing employment and volunteer opportunities within the program upon their graduation.

Kyle leads a team of 53 staff members, comprised largely of teachers within the school. He administers an after school program for over 300 middle school students six days per week. The structured program that he has developed in collaboration with Principal Windley has resulted in a variety of project-based learning initiatives, family engagement events and greater community involvement. Kyle embeds a culture of inclusion in the after school program by partnering with teachers and volunteers who students relate to through art, music and sports. In the three years that Kyle has run the program, he has thoughtfully and methodically built an extensive menu of activities for his students to choose from. In addition to the chess team, the after-school program at 318K offers students the opportunity to join a dance team, drama club, guitar ensemble, RockBand, Jazz, Concert Band, athletic teams (2016 NYC Middle School Baseball League Champions), STEM club, cheerleading, visual arts and a flight simulation program!  The Flight Simulation program is a STEM activity that engages students in a videogame-like aviation experience.  This year, the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) selected MS 318 to participate in a pilot NYFEST Young Filmmakers Initiative in which students will learn about careers in film. The students will produce a film about soccer which is the after-school program’s most popular sport with an average of 70 students participating on a daily basis. The activities that Kyle incorporates in the after school program allow students to infuse academics with leadership, teambuilding and extracurricular learning opportunities.  Students not only explore their interests, they have the opportunity to excel in and often master these experiences.

Kyle and his students have accumulated a multitude of accomplishments. His Chess champions met and played the current reigning world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen, who visited the school with Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg in September.  The co-ed Robotics team competes in the FIRST Lego League competition at the Jacob Javits Center annually.  Kyle maintains community partnerships with the National Book Foundation and the Museum of the Moving Image, where guest lecturers lead classroom instruction.  Kyle promotes community engagement through collaboration with Woodhull Hospital to provide service learning for students and their parents.

In addition to after school programming, Kyle operates a summer day camp at MS 318.  He welcomes incoming sixth graders at an orientation program that introduces them to the SASF program, teachers and activities. By the end of the summer, these new students anxiously await joining the after school program community in the fall. The summer program is especially beneficial for those students who require academic enrichment activities in ELA and Math.

Kyle Nieves is a bright, thoughtful, strategic, caring, creative youth development and education leader who is passionate about the work he does for his students, their families and community. SASF is proud to introduce him to PASE as a 2017 PASEsetter nominee.

Service Project of the Month: Operation Gratitude

SASF’s Education Department recently announced its service project for February! In support of “Operation Gratitude,” students are collecting items for care packages as well as writing letter of encouragement to our soldiers.

Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit organization that sends over 200,000 care packages and letters annually to U.S. service men deployed overseas, their families, first responders, veterans, new recruits, military families, wounded heroes and caregivers.

A Message from Maureen: Reflections, Leadership, Legacy

Jan 17, 2017

Dear SASF Family,

2016 proved to be a year of many accomplishments for SASF. Together we grew, giving more opportunities to an increased number of children, enabling them to expand their horizons and explore new passions. Our mission was fulfilled as children gained confidence and new competencies, discovering untapped potential and a renewed excitement about learning.

Through regional meetings, surveys, dialogue sessions, and upcoming focus groups about communication, we have sought to engage staff in thinking about the goals, strategies and vision of our newly minted strategic plan, the result of a collaborative community-wide process. I am excited to see the board and staff at all levels beginning to own and help implement the action steps for the plan that will build on the strengths of our programs, staff and organization.

The articles in this newsletter are unified around the theme of leadership: the spotlight on our long-time site leader, Kim Haynes; the reflection on the meaning of leadership through the description of our 3rd annual art day; and the description of our leadership infusion pilot project being developed in collaboration with DYCD and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Leadership and character development are indeed central components of the SASF mission, and are a consistent focus throughout our programs. For example, this month every SASF child will honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy through a day of service. I had the chance to participate at elementary school PS 134X where some 200 students from eight of our elementary school programs enjoyed a rich day-long program integrating arts, sports, nutrition and leadership through service. I reflected with the children about how good it is to have structured service days in order to practice caring for and serving others.   We spoke too about the need to extend the positive spirit of caring, sharing and inclusion through small daily acts of kindness throughout the year. I had the pleasure of introducing New York Ranger alumnus Adam Graves, Stanley Cup champion and recipient of numerous awards, who also spoke to the children. He talked about showing respect to others and being inclusionary through the simple act of smiling and walking across the room to say hello to a stranger. He told the audience to keep smiling, even when faced with hostile crowds.   He described playing before jeering crowds, fans of the opposing team, and eventually breaking them down through a persistent positive demeanor, so that their jeers and taunts were finally replaced by appreciative remarks towards him.

Dr. King’s legacy lives on at SASF, where on a daily basis our board and staff members keep the dream alive through your daily efforts to level the playing field for children from New York’s most high-need communities. Our students develop a greater sense of self-worth and purpose as they too practice giving back, coming to understand what they and we know innately: that it is good to give and contribute.

As we enter the new year, I am filled with a sense of deep gratitude for your hard work on behalf of our children and the positive and generous spirits you share each day.   Your generous giving, your joyful, optimistic and hopeful interactions with your students are the most positive and impactful acts of leadership. Thank you for helping our students strive to attain new heights for themselves, and also for inspiring them through your example to contribute and support the dreams of others.


Maureen Fonseca