The 2010-2011 school year has been Noyes Education Campus’ first go-around with DC SCORES programming during the after-school hours.
It didn’t take Noyes’ poet-athletes long to take ownership of the program.
While the coaches provided direction, the students took charge of December’s Poetry Slam! performance, which was especially impressive for a first-year program competing against schools used to the competition.
This spring, that leadership carried over into Noyes’ service-learning project. Soccer and writing coach Dan Boyer watched as his students dutifully went through each stage of DC SCORES’ service-learning curriculum.
"They've been really helpful,” Boyer said. “They're always enthusiastic."
First there was the neighborhood walk to observe and identify issues within the school and surrounding community.
"What they found was a lot of trash and all things nature weren't being taken care of,” Boyer said.
Sixth-grader Rakkia A. added, “We noticed that we needed more energy (around school).”
Out of that, the students decided it would be a good idea to start by beautifying their school grounds as much as possible. They had a head start — Boyer’s fifth-grade class had planted 28 trees the previous school year with the help of nearby nonprofit Casey Trees.
The students quickly took ownership of caring for the trees. On a hot afternoon in late May, students rolled out a pair of hoses and carried buckets of water to each of the trees on the school grounds.
“We plant the trees because we care about the world and we care about nature,” said fourth-grader Erica W.
They’re waiting on a mulch shipment to help keep the trees healthy, and a summer programs director expressed interest in taking cares of Noyes’ project while the students are away.
"It's gone really well,” Boyer said. “It's been all them, which is kind of a good thing. They don't have bad ideas at all.”
Boyer also coaches Noyes’ soccer teams, and he has noticed the positive energy from the project translate to practices and games.
During the fall, he said, Rakkia showed poor sportsmanship on the soccer field and he wasn’t sure she should remain on the team.
“She’s definitely (become) a leader on the team.”
The DC SCORES team’s next project is “the whole trash (cleanup) thing,” Boyer said. Whether that gets completed during the next couple weeks or the 2011-12 school year, one thing is pretty clear:
Noyes poet-athletes will lead the charge.