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Thursday, March 18, 2010

DC SCORES spring season kicks off, puts students outdoors in their communities

Everything has come together this week. The sun has come out. Temperatures have ascended into the 60s. And the DC SCORES spring season is under way in 23 schools – the same as in the fall – throughout the District. A week from today is the first game day.

So with things in full swing and the excitement level extremely high –Zach Elkin, our Elementary School Program Coordinator and the coach at Tubman Elementary School, ran out of registration forms the first afternoon of programming at Tubman – it is a great time to provide a general portrait of what DC SCORES’ spring season is all about.

Cory Chimka, our Elementary School Program Director and a former coach at Tubman, provided many insights into what the next two-plus months will provide.

What is the most exciting part of spring season?

"The idea that the kids have been pretty cooped up for the last several months (and are now getting outside). On the soccer side, they’re finally getting back in shape on the field again. And then on the writing side, coinciding with this beautiful weather they’re getting out into their community and really making a close examination of what’s going on, who are the people in their community, what are the real strengths and the real struggles in their community."

As far as soccer, what differences, what improvements do you see from kids on the field during the spring season?

"The level of play is really ramped up. There’s definitely a sense among the players and the coaches that it is a more competitive season not only because the level of play is ramped up, but also they know from Game 1 that everyone’s playing to make the playoffs (unlike in the fall, which doesn’t include elementary school playoffs).

"One of the things I like to see is the juxtaposition between a team that has kept things going (by participating in a league or clinics) over the winter and others teams where the kids have just kind of dispersed into other programs until DC SCORES starts back up."

Do you tend to see good retention from the fall to the spring?

"Definitely. We’ll get a handful of new kids at each school, but pretty much that’ll be in addition to all the kids who were there in the fall."

Say you have a third grader who started DC SCORES in the fall. What are the biggest differences you notice in them during the spring season?

"There’s a huge difference. I feel like both in third grade and fourth grade, those are two of the years where there’s the biggest difference between an incoming student and an outgoing student. So many things are developed during those years that I think we help to foster.

"They come so far in self expression both verbally and in a written way. They are just so much more adept at expressing their feelings. Also I feel like their sense of humor develops a lot during that time, and everyone knows that’s kind of a big part of being on a team, having that camaraderie that goes with it."

With this being our year of leadership, have you noticed leaders developing in the fall and then taking the reins in the spring, galvanizing everybody?

"I think that’s a natural part of the transition between the poetry season and service-learning season. You had natural leaders appear while the students were putting together their 5-minute performances for the Poetry Slam!, which was a very much student-led activity. But then it’s even more student-led, student-run, student-controlled in the spring when they’re putting together their Writing for the Community projects. I think there’s a lot of carry-over.

"There’s so much involved in putting together the Writing for the Community project, that they almost always fall into different committees within the team and you see that leadership come out in committees. But you also see good self-selection like, 'I know what my strength is. I know that in this committee I’m really going to be able to use my strength. So I’m going to self-select that.'"

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