By Manisha Singh
Director, COMPASS at P.S. 273
The Child Center of NY will be celebrating a huge and meaningful anniversary next month. This December marks the 20th anniversary of the agency’s Youth Development division. With dozens of sites and programs, ranging from afterschool services to alternative high schools and internships, YD serves 10,000 children and young adults annually, preparing them for adulthood with the skills, support, and confidence to compete and succeed at school and in life. It’s been a privilege for me to be involved with one of those programs for the past four years.
On November 18, 2013, The Child Center’s COMPASS afterschool program at P.S. 273 began under the supervision of Saher Mahmood. Saher was promoted in 2014, and I joined the COMPASS program at P.S. 273 in December of that year. I joined a team devoted to the culture Saher created — teamwork, genuine care for our participants and each other, and strong bonds with our principal and school staff. Over the years, staff have come and gone, participants have graduated and moved on, but one thing remains the same: We continuously strive to keep the culture we were built on.
Every year we have an anniversary celebration that consists of former and current participants speaking, dancing, and acting out skits about what our program means to them. This year’s celebration on November 19 was extra special, since it was our first milestone anniversary. Some participants showed off artwork they made. And many participants wrote and delivered their own, moving speeches. I was so touched by how many students remarked not only that they like our activities, such as game room and sports, but also that they appreciate our helping with homework and have gotten better at it because of us — and that we are family.
Staff and teachers spoke, as well, and even parents showed up. Whoever wants to attend and share are welcome. And of course, there is no celebration without cake.
For our fifth anniversary, nothing has changed. Although we have some new faces, we are still embracing our old ones. It is amazing to see how my team has helped shape participants into who they are now. Through our activities like literacy, STEM, homework help, dance, sports, art, project-based learning, Friday clubs, and much more, my team has touched the lives of so many children who found safety and comfort in our program. Our participants from our first graduating class are now off searching for high schools!
We are ecstatic to have our home at P.S. 273, under the leadership of Principal Ward, who makes our transition from day school to afterschool effortless. Looking back, we can’t even believe that it’s been five years already, but I guess the saying fits — time flies when you’re having fun!