Friday, May 30, 2014

The Cook Library Scholars Celebrate a Year of Abundant Success

May 29 was a significant and memorable day in Roosevelt Park for our Cook Library Scholars. The birds were chirping, the trees waved gently in the breeze, the sun was shining, and many neighbors were outdoors. After a year of hard work and perseverance that the program’s staff, volunteers, families, and scholars displayed, they could finally kick back and rejoice in all of their triumphs with their new Cook Library Scholars family. Families enjoyed a delicious potluck picnic, complete with a dessert of cake, cupcakes, and ice cream. 

“Certificates of Participation” were awarded to the parents who came to workshops and active in parent enrichment activities. Scholars also received awards such as “Wise Guy,” “Always Cheerful,” and “Future World Changer,” “Mr. Imagination,” “Endless Optimist,” “Expert Reader,” and “Everybody’s Buddy.” There is such great camaraderie among the scholars, that when awards were being called, they were able to accurately guess who would receive it. 

There were also two raffle opportunities. The first, for an iPod Shuffle, was to encourage reading. For every twenty-five books read, a scholar could place one ticket into the drawing box. The second raffle, which was for a bicycle donated by The Motion Initiative, was awarded to those students who succeeded in the Multiplication Challenge, where they were required to memorize multiplication facts. Essentially, the more successes a scholar had throughout the year, the more tickets they could place into the jar. 

There was also an array of outdoor games, including the water balloon toss, face painting, a beanbag toss, sack races, and even tug of war. These were all thoughtfully arranged by the Cook Library Staff, and were extremely popular with the scholars.

As the festivities commenced, the scholars displayed deep gratitude and sincere joy to be with the people who were there with them every step of the way. The beaming smiles on their faces, their unity with one another, and their high spirits made it clear that the time spent in the program has made a tremendous impact on each and every one of them.

All in all, it is safe to say that these students who were found rejoicing in Roosevelt Park truly have a great reason to do so. Not only are these fantastic kids working very hard to ensure a future for themselves, but they have a state-of-the-art team of leaders, collaborators, interns, volunteers, donors, foundations, and friends that are right alongside of them to help them along the way. If only every child in the world had such a reason to celebrate.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Meet Gabby, One of Grandville Avenue’s Happiest Fifth Graders

Read about this inspiring fifth grader and overall happy kid:

Gabby playing drums at the 2014 Cook Arts Center Spring Recital

Gabby's recent crocheting project

Gabby is a fifth grader at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. His nicknames include but are not limited to Gabby Fabby, Grabiel, Gabby Toddy, and Yaddy. Gabby’s favorite subject is reading, and his favorite authors are Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl. He loves chapter books because “You can use your imagination! You can see if you’re in the story.” His grades at this school are mostly A’s. His class is currently working on a song to their parents, which Gabby described as “…really a touching song. It talks about how you grow up, and how our parents take care of us.”

Gabby has four brothers and three sisters.  “My older brothers and sisters pick on me. They get on my nerves a lot,” he expressed with a casual, toothy grin. In his free time, he loves to play chess and tennis. Gabby’s best friends at the Cook Arts Center are Daniel, Bryan, and Dominic. 

One of the things that makes Gabby unique is his remarkably positive attitude. He does everything with a smile, including his avid participation, adoration, and appreciation for the arts at his very young age. He is at the Cook Arts Center every day possible.

His favorite class at the center is pottery, because “You can use your imagination,” he said again. “You can make anything! You can make a troll face, an ogre face, your face, or any other face you want! Or you can make a pot, a vase, a basket, little cups, bowls, or even tea cups!” Not only has he already created a fully painted Santa Claus sculpture for the Program Director, but his new plans are to shape a tea cup with a heart-shaped handle for her.

Gabby also enjoys crocheting because, “You can make any clothing you want!” he exclaimed. “You can make shoes, little booties, socks, scarves… I am only in the beginner’s class, but I’m going to be in the intermediate class soon. I am halfway there! If my mom wants a dress to wear, or something like that, there you go! I can make her a dress,” he said, beaming. His class is currently making a blanket, and each student is responsible for twenty rows. “My colors are green, blue, and white, and I only have eight more lines to go!” he reported excitedly. When finished, they will donate the beautiful blanket to a neighborhood clinic.

Gabby also loves rock band and has played both bass and piano. He loves the keyboards because he said that “You can use the buttons to change the sounds. It’s like a violin in a movie when they are walking through a hotel!” he exclaimed.

He also participates in many dance classes, including Hip Hop and Mexican Folkloric dance. “Dancing helps you in music,” he explained. ”You can make a dance in a group so that everyone in the class performs. It helps you get active, move, and exercise. You can even make up your own moves in class!”

This blissful fifth-grader’s life goal is to become a chef. He loves cooking for his family, saying, “They even like my grilling better than by dad’s.” He elaborated, “It’s just a hobby for me like pottery and drawing, but it’s a big one.” The future of his culinary creations is bright. “My Uncle Tyler said that he would hire me when I’m 19.” The Cook Arts Center will accommodate his desire in cooking as well, as there will be a Cooking Club this summer.

So what is this joyful child’s favorite things about the Cook Arts Center? He explained that he keeps coming back because he’s “…allowed to be a part of the program. It helps you be more creative in art. I have made pottery, drawings, and even guitars out of cardboard.” The programs through Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities’ Cook Arts Center allows this happy-go-lucky, creative kid to express himself through the arts in a variety of forms. For such an affirmative partnership, both he and the organization should consider themselves lucky.