Boys & Girls Club program continues to meet GOALS


By Lucy Norton

Boy & Girls Club intern

Just as in weeks past, we had some amazing activities for our juniors including the GOALS program as part of Massachusetts Youth Soccer at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

GOALS Soccer is a program in which local soccer coaches play with the kids and teach them the rules of the game.

This past week, I sat in on one of our more academic activities — Boys & Girls Club of America Summer Brain Gain, which helps to stem summer learning loss.

The leader of the program, Cathy Burgess, said, “It’s a fun way to keep the kids’ brains engaged even though it is the summer. We do activities that use math and science skills, but the kids don’t even realize they are using them when they do it.”

From sitting in on this program, I saw a close-knit group of kids who were genuinely excited about learning despite the fact that they were out of school. Did you know numerous studies show that most of us can lose about two months of grade level in math skills and more than two months reading level if we just sit around all summer?

Another activity I was lucky enough to see was STEAM Week. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. STEAM Week is facilitated by Sehba Hasan from STEAM Engine where different activities happen each day.

When I interviewed Sehba last week, she told me the activity of the day was called “push and pull,” in which children work with a magnet kit and are able to bring the kit home.

 The program is based on the concepts of magnetism. Students learn various concepts while playing 10 games. Since almost everything — from doorbells to refrigerators to TVs — involves magnets, it is very helpful that the students learn, understand and play with magnets, and understand the fundamentals behind magnets. The different concepts include:

n What is magnetism?

n Attraction and repulsion of north and south poles of a magnet.

n Magnetic field.

n Electromagnets.

n Uses and applications of magnets.

n Materials used for magnets.

The other activities are an ecotarium kit and a digital microscope lab, where children collect their own specimens and examine them under a microscope.

Sehba also designs an activity in which children build a light-up greeting card using circuits.

This week, I organized my own activity with a group of 15 children making hair scrunchies. The idea sprung from a quick conversation I had with the club’s executive director, Donata Martin. I asked her opinion on scrunchies, and she suggested I design an activity for children to create their own.

The activity was a huge hit, and I am planning to offer the activity for the last two weeks of Summer Blast. Another special arts activity we had this week was a volunteer-led knitting program.

The Sprouts, our youngest campers, were busy the past two weeks, too. The theme for Week 3 was “Plants and Trees,” and Week 4’s theme was “Gardens and Bugs.” Throughout Week 3, Sprouts learned the importance of plants to our world, the life cycle of a tree, and how to care for different plants. During Week 4, the Sprouts explored why bugs are important to plants, such as bees in a garden. Some of the other programs included Little Scientist, Gardening Science, and Social Skills.

As always, the Sprouts enjoyed lots of water play on Thursday, and the children got their energy out during Movement Dance with Ms. Kim. The Junior staff’s Veronica led the Sprouts in a bubble-painting activity as well.

We still are accepting registrations for Weeks 5 and 6 of Summer Blast. Visit our website or stop by the club at 365 Lindell Ave., in Leominster, between 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Fitchburg, Leominster kids still having a ‘Summer Blast’


By Zachary Martin, Boys & Girls Club intern

UPDATED:   07/30/2017 10:40:15 AM EDT
The Juniors at the  Summer Blast  at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster participated in a team-building exercise called  Toppings.  The

The Juniors at the Summer Blast at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster participated in a team-building exercise called Toppings. The exercise teaches them how to work together by doing different team-building activities, like keeping balloons from hitting the ground while they walk in a straight line down the hallway.

This week, the Sprouts at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster are learning about the different “biomes,” or forests or tundras on our planet, starting with the forest and the different animals that live there.

Their day begins in the computer lab where they play different games based on their grade to help them learn how to spell, read and write, and also how to identify shapes.

Following that program, the Sprouts go outside to practice their soccer skills with the Mass Youth Soccer staff.

At the end of the day, the kids learn about this week’s theme, with the focus on the forest. Grace, 5, told me about how she learned that “some owls are bigger than others.” The kids then made little owls out of cardboard and construction paper that they were able to bring home.

The following day, the Sprouts arrived for another fun-filled day. They go to their soccer clinic in the morning, followed by a nature walk around the building and then lunch. When the kids returned from lunch, they had their lesson of the day with the focus on rainforests and the different animals that live there

On the last day, the Sprouts had their nutrition class and learned about the different types of fruits and vegetables grown across the state, and then they were able to try a mango and a kiwi, which left some of the kids with a smiling face and others with a sour face.

The Sprouts’ day came to a close after learning about the desert and its animals, followed by a quick art session with them coloring some of the different animals that call the desert home.

The Juniors had a week a little different than the Sprouts. With so many programs to choose from, I was only able to sit in on a few of them. However, many were very interesting.

On the more academic side of things, the kids participated in a program called “Maker Camp,” where they spent the last four days building a “dome den,” which is a small-domed diorama that can fit up to four kids inside. The dome den can be made to look like an igloo or the starry night sky or a number of other possibilities.

At the same time, in another wing of the building, the “Book Club” was taking place. This week, the kids were reading “Walk on Earth a Stranger” by Rae Carson. The Book Club focuses on teaching the kids how to read and analyze the book they are reading to better understand it and also to encourage the love of reading for leisure.

The following day, the Juniors in the “Circuitry and Card Making” program learned about electrical wiring and how it works. They were able to put their newfound knowledge to the test by making their own greeting cards with light-up robots on the inside of the card.

“I like making the crafts, and I also enjoy the teacher,” said Talia, 8.

Lastly, a team-building program called “Toppings” was held exclusively for the 13-year-olds. The program teaches them how to work together by doing different team-building activities, such as keeping balloons from hitting the ground as they walk in a straight line down the hallway while only being able to talk to each other. If they are able to talk and not complain or argue with each other then they earn the chance to pick a topping on their ice cream on Friday.

The camp offers just as many sports programs as it does academic ones, including bike riding, soccer, hiking and nature walks, basketball, and capture-the-flag, along with some lesser-known games, like “Spud,” which makes the kids use both their mind and body. Six teams start in the middle, a staff member throws a ball in the air and calls out a number indicating which team must catch the ball, and freeze wherever he or she is standing while all other teams scatter across the gym. The one who catches the ball can throw it at someone to get them out, but if they miss, they’re out. They can pass to a teammate to move the ball around, but if they drop it, they’re out. They can also shoot it in the hoop when they have two or fewer players in, and if they get it in the basket, their entire team can come back in the game.

We are also bringing back old games like “Pick-up-sticks” and “Jacks.”

The club is still accepting registrations for this week, July 31 through Aug. 4, of Summer Blast. Visit our website or stop by the club at 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., to learn more.

No summertime blues here


First of several reports by Boys & Girls Club teen intern Lucy Norton on the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s summer programs.

By Lucy Norton

LEOMINSTER — Our first week has started up again here at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s Summer Blast program.

Juniors have fun working on Recycled Rodeo Project with Jerry Beck, center. Pictured are Brett H., Angel T., Logan W., Jerry Beck, Danitiza T., Tora E., Aiyana W.,and Jazilyn C. Juniors soak up the sun at Camp Collier.

We’re very happy to be back after a long school year, with lots of fun activities with a great group of kids. The Sprouts and Juniors are beyond ecstatic for another great summer here at the club with their favorite staff and friends.

We have some extra-special activities that we are especially excited about this summer. One of our main activities is called “Recycled Rodeo,” a volunteer-based program by our own Jerry Beck, who helped us with our toasted-bread art last summer. Jerry had our kids’ artwork featured in the American Visionary Art Museum’s exhibit called “Yum!”

This summer, we are working on a project in which the kids use natural products, such as recycled items and items from nature, and make them into something new. Our featured items are three huge sculptures that the kids are now decorating and are on display in front of the club for the community to admire.

The first week, they covered the products in tape but the following week Jerry will be bringing in donated fabric from Jo-Ann’s Fabric for the kids to tell their own stories by cutting out pictures and pasting them onto the sculptures.

Our three main sculptures are a dragon, a bird and a giant head.

The dragon has mythology-themed stories on it because of the creature’s significance to fantasy. The bird has stories on it that relate to flying and of the kids’ dreams and aspirations. And the giant head has portraits of the kids made of fabric on it. The community will be able to see these beautiful creations as they evolve.

Jerry tells us that when the kids were working on the sculpture Tuesday, they saw an eagle flying over their heads and believed it was a sign that they were doing good work with their project!

When I asked Jerry’s daughter, Georgie, where her father got his inspiration for this project, she said he comes up with them in his sleep. Sometimes he will wake up and just tell Georgie what he dreamt of, and then they will get to work on how to make it happen.

Jerry has some volunteers from the Sizer School in Fitchburg helping him with this project. One of them, Hannah, tells us her favorite thing about the project is that “we are making beautiful things out of things that some people would not consider beautiful.”

This ties into Jerry’s philosophy for the whole project, which is “turning garbage into gold.”

We take lots of pride in our special activities like Jerry Beck’s, but that’s not all we have going on for the Juniors. Throughout the week, we have great activities to help the kids’ minds continue to work over the summer, including Summer Brain Gain, Economics, Coding and even the Science of Sports. They learn the importance of social skills by participating in programs like Boys Circle and Girls Circle, which are activities in which our Juniors can get together to talk about issues in their lives and address questions they have.

They get in touch with their artistic side in Drawing, Painting, Zentangle and Art. And there are also activities to get the kids outside and having fun, such as Nature Walk, Baseball, Archery, Wiffle Ball, Soccer and Kickball.

This past Thursday, our kids headed out to Camp Collier in Gardner for their weekly field trip. They swam, canoed, made sand castles on the beach, and got to play some soccer and basketball. While the kids were playing basketball, they discovered a bird’s nest in one of the hoops, got some of our staff and successfully rescued the nest and the baby birds inside it.

There were lots of arts and crafts at camp, too. Our Juniors got to make some bracelets and necklaces that they wore home. They have had a lot on their plate this week and are looking forward to another four more fun-filled weeks here at the club.

While the Juniors are exploring this amazing art project and other great activities, our Sprouts are having just as many opportunities for fun and learning. The theme this week for the Sprouts is “Weather Around Us.”

Our 5- to 7-year-olds are exploring and examining important questions, like why the sky id blue and why some clouds look different than others, while learning about different types of weather, the water cycle, the days of the week and even natural disasters. They are doing all of this through observation, play and direct instruction.

The daily soccer clinic offered by Goals Youth Soccer in Lancaster is teaching the kids how to play while having lots of laughs and smiles. The nutrition cooking class was a great experience to taste some new and yummy foods while learning about nutrition and how to eat healthy!

The Sprouts learned important things in activities like social skills, gardening science, exercise and little scientist. They had lots of fun in activities like computer fun, dance, sports and Lego design.

We are always looking for new campers to come in and enjoy the fun with us. If you or your child would be interested in a fun-filled summer of learning and excitement, visit www.bgcfl.org/summer or come see us in person at 365 Lindell Ave.

JAZZ AT SUNSET 2017


JAZZ AT SUNSET 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 6:30 PM

WICN Public Radio, in collaboration with The Theatre District Alliance, presents Jazz at Sunset, featuring rising superstar Grace Kelly. The area behind the theatre will be transformed into an outdoor, picnic-style concert venue to include food trucks, cash bars and Theatre District Alliance exhibits promoting the various businesses and cultural organizations in the neighborhood.

Jazz at Sunset re-ignites the popular, long-running  series previously held at Worcester’s Ecotarium. Organizers hope to present a six-date series in summer 2018. This first event in July will gauge community interest and support for bringing this highly successful series to downtown Worcester.

Admission for Jazz at Sunset is $20 per person with a limited number of $120 VIP stage-front tables (for four people). Tickets can be purchased through The Hanover Theatre website, at the box office on Southbridge Street or at the event. Free parking will be available in the lot immediately behind the theatre, accessed from Federal Street.

If you are not in the VIP area, please bring your own chair. In addition, you may also bring your own picnic. Beer and wine bars and food trucks will be available. Please note that alcohol MAY NOT be brought in, and must be purchased at the event.

Event will go on rain or shine!

About Grace Kelly:

The Wellesley, Massachusetts born artist, 24, is a seven-time winner of the Downbeat critics poll (as a rising star in the alto sax category). She recorded her first album when she was 12 and received the first of her ASCAP Foundation awards at age 14. Kelly’s appearances include the Boston Pops, Jazz at Lincoln Centre’s Barack Obama inauguration celebration and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Among Kelly’s critically acclaimed releases are collaborations with jazz legends Lee Konitz (GRACEfulLEE, 2008) and Phil Woods (The Man With the Hat, 2011). The disc with Konitz ended up in Downbeat’s Best Albums of the 2000s issue.

A graduate from the Berklee College of Music in 2011, with a degree in professional music, Kelly has taught residency workshops there since 2012. That year also brought another important opportunity to pass on her musical knowledge: the U.S. State Department sent her on an international speakers tour to be an ambassador of jazz and educate the people of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands about music.

Maintaining a busy tour schedule, Kelly has drawn critical praise and new fans every year, headlining over 700 shows in 30 countries at all major jazz festivals. Learn more at gracekellymusic.com.

Non-Profit Spotlight:

Jazz at Sunset is proud to put a spotlight on the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster:

Young People Talk about STEM at Boys & Girls Clubs


 May 9, 2017

STEM Next aims to make STEM come alive for young people, so they can discover their interests and passions and gain valuable skills for the future.

One key strategy for STEM Next is to leverage existing systems, for example, we invest in the capacity of national youth organizations to offer high-quality, hands-on STEM experiences after school. STEM Next supports Imagine Science, a collaboration among the National 4-H Council, Girls, Inc., YMCA of the USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to bring STEM to the 18 million youth they collectively serve each year.

In addition, STEM Next and the Noyce Foundation have supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s STEM initiative and other efforts to develop quality STEM programming at their 4,000 Clubs nationwide.

Recently we looked in on one Club to get a sense for how engaging in STEM activities there impacts young people. The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (Massachusetts) has been building its portfolio of STEM programs since 2009. Currently, young people participate in:

  • Computer science – app and game development
  • Environmental education projects, including raising trout, beekeeping, and producing maple syrup
  • Robotics through FIRST and other robotic competitions
  • Chemistry through cooking
  • Engineering, physics and machines

BGCA Fitchburgg & Leominster, First Robotics Winning Team

We asked the young people what participating in STEM means to them. Their answers validate our belief that high-quality STEM learning equips young people with key skills and capacities to succeed in life – no matter their chosen path. Listen to what they told us:

Hazel, age 10: “Robotics is really fun because we get to think of an idea, test it out. At first our ideas don’t work and we keep playing around with them until they do. We learn to work together and not just to have one person do everything. And we also learn to take our time and be patient because it’s not always going to work on the first try.”

Dean, age 12: “First we have to work together. We need to be good communicators. We learn how to trust people. We work together to code and each of us also built a part of the robot. I was a bit nervous but we have done pretty well!

Jonathan, age 15: “I have learned basic programming and how to design an app. The more I use the program, the more I teach myself. It’s a long process if you want your app to be really good and you want people to enjoy it and recommend it to others. You can’t rush it – you have to think, go over it many times. You also need an outside view. You might think one thing but when you have people test it they see it differently and can give you good suggestions. There are so many steps to making a good app or game. We sit down and come up with a topic. We brainstorm, make a prototype, add more details and plan it out. Our game cheers people up and teaches them math, science and history at the same time. We all got together to present our apps in front of judges who are professionals from our community. The judges gave us advice about improving our apps and we have done it.”

Eric, age 15: “This is not just about building a robot, it’s about life lessons – working on a team, being able to problem solve. We brainstorm in the first week…we learn how to argue with each other – it’s good for the end result. It’s hectic and tense, but if you are challenged to defend your idea, it gets better.

Olivia, age 18: “Being a member of the robotics team helped me realize that I am interested in how different mechanisms go together and how things function. So it’s shaped my career goals. Now I am going to be a biomedical engineer and create better prosthetics.”

Boys & Girls Club director, Donata Martin, noted that since she assumed leadership of the Club, her vision has centered around STEM. “Kids love science, and they don’t have enough time during the school day to explore it. But they have all those hours in the afternoon. We start out with homework and snack, and then it’s off to programs.” Martin offers five key lessons for other after-school programs exploring STEM:

  1. Ask the young people what they are interested in. Start out simple. There is so much you can do right around you. For example, we tapped our maple trees and made syrup – and in doing that, we talked about local folklore and history.”
  2. Partner with the business community. They are interested in what we do because we are developing the workforce for the future. Let them know what you are doing, bring in volunteers to teach, and have your staff work with the volunteers and learn alongside the youth.
  3. Ask the staff and invest in their professional development. We are always asking our staff what they are interested in and sending them to trainings that they want to go to – they come back eager to roll out programs. For example, now we are beekeeping! We’ve extracted 75 pounds of honey. Like the kids, we make mistakes, and then we learn and try again.
  4. Take the kids into the community on field trips so they can see what kinds of careers are there. Find them internships in their fields of interest, expose them to new experiences that broaden their horizons.”

BGCA Fitchburg & Leominster, Youth beekeepers

We are looking forward to keeping up with this Club as they continue to develop the next generation of our STEM innovators. For more about the Boys & Girls Club of America STEM program, click here.

 

Author: Kathleen Traphagen

One day just to give back to community


By Amanda Burke, aburke@sentinelandenterprise.com

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has one mission: Serve the children.

Sometimes, that means day-to-day building upkeep falls through the cracks.

But not on Thursday, when about 40 employees from international real-estate firm Keller Williams dug out their gardening gloves or grabbed a drill to help the youth development organization tidy up for spring.
Read more…

All those papers. All those tests. They earned it.


Cheers all around as area seniors receive chamber scholarships

By Elizabeth Dobbins, edobbins@sentinelandenterprise.com
UPDATED:   05/13/2017 06:32:29 AM EDT

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Leominster Superintendent of Schools James R Jolicoeur, left, and Leominster High Principal David Fiandaca celebrate with LHS

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Leominster Superintendent of Schools James R Jolicoeur, left, and Leominster High Principal David Fiandaca celebrate with LHS scholarship recipients at the North Central Mass. Chamber of Commerce Good Morning Scholarship Breakfast on Friday.

With them, from left, are seniors Laura Jenny, Mark Pothier, Alivia Burns, John Gove, Kristen Maguy and Kyleigh Olivier. See slide show at sentinelandenterprise.com. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE PHOTOS / JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — The achievements of the 24 students presented scholarships at the “Good Morning” breakfast had many local leaders lightheartedly taking another look at their own credentials Friday morning.
Read more…

North End Subaru does its Share for Boys & Girls Clubs


LUNENBURG – Subaru of America Inc. and North End Subaru on Friday presented a check for $22,071 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg/Leominster and Lunenburg as part of the 2016 Subaru Share the Love event.

From Nov. 17 to Jan. 3, customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru vehicle could select from a list of charities to receive a donation of $250 from Subaru of America.

This year, for the first time throughout the life of the program, there was no cap on the total donation from Subaru of America to its Share the

Love charitable partners. By the end of this year’s event, Subaru hopes to reach a grand total of nearly $90 million donated since the creation of Share the Love.

For 2016, Subaru of America selected the four national charities ASPCA, Make- A- Wish, Meals on Wheels America and the National Park Foundation. Subaru retailers could also elect to add a local charity, and North End Subaru selected the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg/ Leominster and Lunenburg as its ” hometown charity.”

The check was presented to the local Boys & Girls Clubs by Martin Babineau, dealer principal of North End Subaru.

Central MA Science Festival picks up steam


LEOMINSTER – It was full STEAM ahead on a sunny Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for the fourth annual Central MA Science Festival.

The popular, free event highlights the importance of STEAM-related learning (STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and there were plenty of hands-on exhibits for the more than 500 visitors who had come through by 1 p.m., with another two hours to go, volunteer Kelly A. Hartnett said. Read more…

Go Fundme – Support our TerrorBots FRC Team 3623


Since establishing the team in 2011, the TerrorBots have been gaining momentum each season. From being named “Rookie of the Year” in 2011 to “New England District Event Champs” and “Team Spirit Award” at Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI) this past March, the team of 15 students from 7 schools and 6 mentors, along with their families and community sponsors, are ecstatic to see all of their hard work and dedication come to fruition.

The expenses for traveling to St. Louis are immense. Costs include: registration, flights and hotels, shipping fees for our robot and materials, and more.

We are reaching out to our community for their support to allow the TerrorBots to compete in the World Championships!

All donations will directly benefit the trip.  Click here to donate today.

YUMMM! Visions of Food at AVAM


Bret McCabe
February 21, 2017

Brutforce.com

Ruby C. WilRuby C. Williams, "Farm Boy with a Duck." Part of Yummm! at AVAM.liams sells produce at a stand along Florida’s State Road 60, which runs east-west through the Sunshine State from Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, through Tampa, and on to Vero Beach on the Atlantic Coast. She hand-paints signs to entice passing motorists to stop, and her advertisements are rendered in bright acrylic paint on board. Sometimes they’re simple—an orange circle on a matte grey background cheerily offering “sweet orange Florida’s best” or a bold red circle with a short green stem and leaves announcing “farm tomatoes.” Other signs deliver an almost aphoristic uplift, such as a green and gold flower surrounded by text that reads, “It’s getting better,” or a portrait of a woman in blue on gold board that suggests, “It’s a great thing to love someone.”
Read more…

A look at 20 local people who helped make 2016 memorable


For the seventh year, the Sentinel & Enterprise is looking back at the people who won our hearts, stimulated our minds and piqued our curiosity over the past 12 months.

These local people — among them politicians, public servants, professors, performers and community advocates — helped make 2016 memorable.

1. Kevin Roy

Roy’s quick response to a fire in the early hours of Feb. 10 earned the Fitchburg Fire Chief and 41-year department veteran a Medal of Valor during the Firefighter of the Year awards this November.

When a fire started in a house at 174 Walton St., Roy could see the blaze from his home.

He entered the duplex and pulled an unconscious 60-year-old man to safety.

Read more…

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