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Monday, February 28, 2011

DC SCORES Alumni Program gets feedback from former poet-athletes

During a recent lunch period, five students at Wilson High School sacrificed their free time in between classes to sit in another classroom.

Sure, there was pizza, but it was still a classroom. During lunch.

But the five boys were interested in learning something – how to become more involved as DC SCORES alumni.

DC SCORES is organizing the focus groups at high schools throughout the city to find out what organized activities former participants are involved in and whether they’d like to stay connected to DC SCORES during their high school years.

Many alumni are already giving back. On a typical Thursday during the fall or spring, you’ll see a handful of high school students refereeing various elementary school soccer games. Alumni have also volunteered at our big program events – the Fall Frenzy, Poetry Slam! and Jamboree!.

Others, however, either haven’t known how to get back involved or have been completely unaware of the alumni program we’re starting.

Thus, the focus groups.

Wilson’s was the first one, and it went extremely well. A pair of the participants, Sebastian D. and Juan Carlos R., have been consistent volunteers since graduating from Oyster-Adams Bilingual School. But the others – Victor D., Aldo C., and Carlos G. – haven’t been involved.

All five of the boys play on Wilson’s soccer team as well as various indoor and travel teams during the off-season. When asked if they’d be interested in refereeing for DC SCORES – receiving community service hours in the process – they enthusiastically said, “Yeah!” All five of them.

The response didn't differ for being a part of the alumni leadership group, which will be responsible for holding meetings regarding alumni events and reaching out to anyone who participated in DC SCORES. And the boys also expressed interest in teaming up to do community-service projects, working at the program’s summer camps, and helping at the Jamboree! and Fall Frenzy.

“It was nice to actually keep in touch and see the little kids playing,” Juan Carlos said of his experience volunteering at October’s Fall Frenzy. “Some kids were good!”
The alumni program, of course, won’t just be about giving back to DC SCORES. There will be trips to D.C. United games, other fun events, and, possibly an alumni soccer team.

Interested, guys?

The overwhelming response to that question: “Yeah!!”

After a half-hour discussion – and with uneaten pizza still in the boxes – a lot had been accomplished. All five alumni were excited to help out at DC SCORES events and be a part of a larger group encompassing a handful of area high schools.

Aldo admitted he hadn't heard of such opportunities prior to the focus group, but afterward he, like the others, was ready to be an active DC SCORES alum – even if, sadly, the program is no longer at his elementary school. He is still in possession, though, of the notebook of poems he wrote.

As DC SCORES continues to hold such focus groups, the hope is to get as many past poet-athletes as possible involved in the current program and collaborating on events and teams.

Alumni can get a head-start on this process by becoming a friend of the DC SCORES Alumni Facebook page and can also e-mail Middle School Program Director Katrina Hochstetler for more information.

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