Face painting, All-you-can-eat hot dogs, and a Justin Bieber dance off? Sign us up!

Last Saturday 25 fifth grade students from P.S. 73 loaded a bus in the Bronx and landed 35 minutes later at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Long Island City. As a reward for their hard work and excellent participation all semester in our Bronx Museum of Art and Story Pirates programs, these students were treated to a fun-filled day hosted entirely by our amazing friends at the Variety Children’s Charity.* Every year Variety throws an all day bash for all of the organizations who they work with throughout the city to celebrate the holidays, and this year we were incredibly proud and honored to join in the festivities.
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The P.S. 73 Poetry and Newspaper Project: A Chat with Education Director Sarah Stevens

Every week five fabulous tutors from Fordham’s Center for American Catholic Studies arrive at P.S. 73 to mentor a select group of 5th graders in the joys of writing. Together they create projects that encourage community service and academic excellence, including this year’s school newspaper and a book of original poetry. In a feat of educational alchemy, our hip and enthusiastic tutors have managed to make persuasive writing and poetic form the preferred topics of conversation on Friday afternoons. Even better, our tutors’ general awesomeness and the group’s annual field trip to the Fordham campus have inspired our 11-year-olds to set their sights on college.

Read the original poetry book!

Read the P.S. 73 Newspaper!

Last year when we checked in with Jenny Portillo, founder of the Fordham group, she
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Freckleface Strawberry

Last week, CFK joined our favorite Brooklyn students on a field trip to Freckleface Strawberry, the Broadway musical based on Julianne Moore’s bestselling children’s book.   The timing for our little outing couldn’t have been better.  Last week also marked Speaker Christine Quinn and Chancellor Cathy Black’s new initiative, “Respect for All Week,” five days of awareness-raising events and workshops designed to promote respect for diversity and inclusive learning environments throughout the city. For those of you not already in possession of the book, Freckleface Strawberry follows the trials and tribulations of a little girl with red hair as she attempts to ditch the dreaded freckles. With the help of a quirky and lovable cast of students and teachers, Freckleface learns to accept herself, freckles and all.

Also, a huge round of a applause for Caitlin Smith, the next big thing on Broadway and our very talented CFK office manager, for today’s reportage.

Hayley Podschun as Freckleface Strawberry, from the Freckleface Musical website. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Lights down, the rustle of 100 light-up shoes has ceased. The squirming of excited elementary school kids happy to be having recess in an unfamiliar but grandiose atmosphere begins to settle.  Warm stage lights reveal a fluorescent and inviting set. Many kids, attending their first Broadway show, release “Wows” and talk to and about the actors in front of them. Teachers, equally enraptured administer quick “Shh’s.” All is now quiet, and catchy music, ranging in style from Kurt Weill to Lady Gaga, fills the air. Which did the kids prefer most? “The part where she made fun of Lady Gaga!” one exuberant boy tells me after the show, before mimicking dance moves he saw the hour before.  Not everyone loved the slow ballads and more tender moments of the show, but they all sat thoroughly attentive for 75 minutes (a tall order for most adults these days).

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The Dinosaurs Were Enormous (and other useful lessons)

On a good day, P.S. 160 in Jamaica, Queens, is about 30 minutes from the American Museum of Natural History–that’s if there’s no traffic, no construction and none of the bizarre incidents that so often hinder movement above ground in the greater NYC area. In other words, on every day except Sunday, P.S. 160 is more than an hour from the AMNH. This little geographical fact, in tandem with the almost Byzantine complexity of school bus schedules, means that it is logistically impossible for our students to visit one of the world’s premier natural history collections via public transportation–even when the school is able to score the tickets. This also means that the vast majority of the students at 160 have never visited the AMNH at all.

Fourth Graders enjoy the AMNH dinosaur exhibit

Fortunately, we were able to get in touch with our good friends over at Varsity Bus, who stepped in last month (yes, we are just recovering from the holidays) and generously shuttled all the fourth-grade students off to everyone’s favorite Manhattan museum. The primary goal of the visit was to get students up close and personal with the Native American – Eastern Woodlands Exhibit, in conjunction with that particular section of the required NYS curriculum. As you might expect, though, it was the dinosaurs that caught everyone’s attention.

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CFK Field Trips!

Every year we expose our kids to some of New York City’s premier cultural events. Thanks to generous contributions from all of our sponsors and volunteers, our kids attended Jazz at Lincoln Center shows, New York Youth Symphony concerts at Carnegie Hall, and exclusive art exhibitions at the Bronx Museum.

These images are some of the thank-you notes we received from the kids at P.S. 160 in Jamaica, Queens. These are the types of things that make all our (and our) hard work worthwhile!


Jazz at Lincoln Center

Thank You Change for Kids!

Thank You Change for Kids!