Schools Open For Safe Spring Break

Allan Appel PhotoLearning how baking soda and vinegar combine to make carbon dioxide gas to blow up a balloon was a hit with Sultanya Hamid. So was the kick ball.

The cheese pizza wasn’t bad either.

All those activities were delivered at the Wexler-Grant School on Monday afternoon, the first of four days this week that Wexler-Grant and five other schools will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m during spring break.

The aim is for kids of all ages to hang out, learn things, have a hot meal, and, most importantly, be sheltered and safe.

At a press conference Thursday Mayor Harp announced the spring break initiative in response to the back-to-back homicides of young teens that have shaken the city.

It’s also part of a wider municipal response, which includes focusing on delivering mentoring services, fast, to young people who are the most at risk.

The initiative, which includes workshops from leadership training to hip-hop dance to science, is taking place at Wexler-Grant, four other K-8 schools, and at Hillhouse High School..

Click on the Board of Ed’s spring break open-school site for school addresses, and more information about schedules and programming.

By the end of Monday, about 400 kids of all ages had participated at the six schools, said schools’ spokesperson Abbe Smith.

Hillhouse had mostly older kids attending, approximately 60 of them, she said.

There were about 35 kids at Wexler-Grant Monday afternoon. Like Sultanya, they learned about acids and bases in chemistry experiments, wore sunglasses that showed them the full spectrum of light, and did other experiments under the direction of Dr. Heidi Gold-Dworkin, who runs Little Scientists workshops in the schools during the regular year, and volunteered her services for the spring break program.

Some of the older kids, like 17-year-old Jasmine McAlister and Brittany McKnight, friends from the High School in the Community, huddled up with Sarah Tankoos (pictured) of the Future Project to hone in on identifying personal strengths and how to take steps to achieve their goals.

Some of these workshops for older teens will be shifted to Hillhouse High School in the remaining three days of the break, Smith said.

Check here for updated details.

After the hard science work of mixing primary colors to make secondary colors and other hands-on chemistry tasks, a girl develops an appetite. That’s especially so if she has also expended energy shouting her concern that a balloon, in the vinegar and baking soda experiment, might explode.

Therefore 7-year-old Jahara Borelli (pictured) was first in line for cheese pizza, peach cup, fresh apple, and milk, water, or juice.

Of all the day’s activities she pronounced “P.E.‘s the best.”

“I’m going to tell my grandma about this day. That we got to do science and play dodge-ball and eat pizza,” she said.

Sultanya liked it all, especially the fruit cup.

Most of the older kids said they would not have felt unsafe if the spring break program were not available. Sultanya said she would have hung out and helped her mom in her store. Three teens between 13 and 14 said they would be home on their smart phones, talking to friends, hanging out.

No one expressed a specific sense of potential danger averted by being in the all-day spring break program.

Parks and recreation Supervisor Rick Melvin predicted once the word gets out that there are free meals in the neighborhood, a lot more kids will be showing up in the succeeding days of the program.

Sultanya expressed concern that pizza might be served every day.

Valerie Richardson (pictured), the chief cook at Clemente Leadership Academy, who was on food duty with Kiki Boyd, allayed her concerns:

Tuesday’s main course is roast chicken with corn; Wednesday’s is hamburger with potato wedges; and Thursday it’s chicken patties with sweet potatoes.

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posted by: darnell on April 15, 2014  5:14pm

Clemente Leadership Academy, 360 Columbus Avenue
Martinez School, 100 James Street
Troup School, 259 Edgewood Avenue
Ross-Woodward School, 185 Barnes Avenue
Wexler-Grant School, 55 Foote Street
Hillhouse High School, 480 Sherman Parkway

Again, West Rock doesn’t belong in New haven, since we are completely ignored. We have the highest level of public housing to any area in the city, how are all of those kids forgotten?