Lights on After School’s First-Ever Virtual Extravaganza

BY AMANDA MOSES

Two decades ago, the nationwide campaign, “Lights On,” was created by the Afterschool Alliance Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. Now, more than ever, after school programs are in danger of being halted and closed outright due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat this, efforts are being made to continue the programming virtually, allowing families to remotely participate in STEAM-based learning activities. Even virtually, these endeavors help to highlight the important role that afterschool programs play in the lives of children, families, and the community.

The Spring Creek After School Program joined this year’s “Lights On” and hosted their virtual Lights On After School event on November 6th.  Children and their parents were invited to join group leaders during a Zoom focusing on the theme, “A Class with a Cause.” Prior to the event, packages filled with crayons, construction paper, and other materials were prepared and distributed to parents so that the children could participate in the activities.

Randi Ray, the Assistant Site Supervisor of the Spring Creek After School Program hosted the event, and introduced three key topics: Communicating With Colors, Healthy Communication, and Communication Through Self-Representation.  Students and parents were encouraged to use the supplies distributed to express themselves through drawings and works of art.

“Lights On After School is an important event that shows the community the impact of after school programming,” Ray said to the attendees. The event then commenced with their daily rousing Spring Creek After School Chant, followed by the first activity with Group Leader Mr. Rhamsys on communicating with colors.

Sometimes it is difficult to express feelings merely through the use of words, so Mr. Rhamsys suggested that the class use colors to showcase their emotions through a wider spectrum. There are both positive and negative ways we can perceive certain colors. At times, red can represent love and passion, yet it can also indicate anger and frustration.

“Even different shades of the same color can have even more meanings,” Rhamsys said. A cobalt blue can mean depression and anxiety, like “I’m feeling really blue today.” While a sky blue can indicate confidence and calmness.

At the end of the activity, the children wrote a haiku concerning the color orange. Some compared it to peaceful sunsets, while others used puns such as “Orange you glad.”

Ms. LaShonda hosted the next lesson, which centered on healthy communication. Everyone created their own little books entitled, “The Best of Me,” and identified three areas where they might be able to improve their communication with family, friends and in school. For example, participants were encouraged to always tell their teachers when they don’t understand a lesson.

The festivities culminated with Ms. Alicia’s project: communicating through self-presentation. Here the class was asked to create a silhouette cutout of themselves, after which they used positive words to describe themselves.

“I believe our first ever Virtual Lights On Afterschool event was successful and insightful. Our families were able to learn new and fun techniques about how to practice healthy communication within their communities, peers, and themselves,” said Ray.  

Screenshots by Amanda Moses