The Kevin Oliver Memorial Leadership Award was established in 2014 to help recognize one youth each year who demonstrates the virtues of courage, perseverance, and humility, as exemplified in good character & leadership. This annual award, dedicated to the memory of Kevin Oliver, is given to the County-nominated Youth of the Year, as a way of enabling their participation in the State Youth of the Year program, and providing the opportunity for continued growth & maturation.
This yearly memorial of Kevin Oliver, recognizing his passion for the youth of Skagit County, and his dedication to personal improvement, was awarded to Kyla Whiton, to help cover the trip costs to Seattle & Olympia for the State Youth of the Year program. As we reflect on the purpose and impact of this Leadership Award, we are thrilled to see such a great return on the gracious support of the Olivers. Kyla’s performance throughout the process of preparing for Youth of the Year, and her hard work throughout the competition– is the best fulfillment of the Award’s purpose. We celebrate with the Olivers, all those who have contributed to the Award, with Kyla, and with all our Board, staff, and partners about the the opportunities for #GreatFutures that have been created.
Christian is a Kindergartener at Little Mountain elementary. He is one of our new members this year at the start of the school year. Christian is a bright kid and when he smiles it brings a smile to others. Christian is our boy of the month for his willingness to engage and encourage others in the program.
Girl of the Month Julia R, age 9
Julia is in 4th grade and attends Jefferson Elementary. Julia has a great bubbly attitude and likes to check in with staff. You can usually find Julia in the art room. She also enjoys Positive Action which teaches kids that their emotions are affected by what they choose to do and Power hour where she gets her homework.
Power hour All-Star George W, age 8
George is in 3rd grade and attends Lincoln Elementary. He has been a Club Member the summer before his 1st-grade year. George makes sure to come to Power Hour each day, working on homework or reading.
Artist of the Month Chloe C, age 8
Chloe attends Jefferson Elementary and is currently a 3rd grader. She has been a Club member since spring of 2018. Chloe attends art every day that it is open, Chloe likes to make customized artwork for friends, family, and staff.
Triple Play MVP Adrian N, age 7
Adrian attends Jefferson Elementary and is currently in 2nd grade. He has started attending the Club just this year. Adrian can usually be found participating in Triple Play which is our physical game program. He can be seen actively helping others join in a program and helps promote games when we are preparing to head outside.
Landon is a Kindergartener that attends Centennial Elementary. He started coming to the Club this year and has been a really great role model for other members.
Girl of the Month Laykin B
Laykin is attending Washington Elementary school and is currently a 2nd grader. Laykin participates in a wide range of programs at the Club and has even gotten some members who tend not to join a program to participate with her. She does everything with a smile.
Power hour All-Star Isaias B
Isaias is currently in 3rd Grade and is attending Madison Elementary @Harriet Rowley. This is his second year at the Club. When you walk into the learning center you can usually find Isaias there getting work done. After he’s finished he likes to hang out with his friends in the game rooms.
Triple Play MVP Elijah M
Elijah is currently a fifth grader and attends Madison Elementary @Harriet Rowley. He has been attending the Club for 5 years starting the summer he turned 6. Elijah is a great role model for the younger members as he comes prepared to go to Football after he is done at the Club.
Artist of the Month Alina A
Alina is currently in second grade and attends Lincoln Elementary. Alina has been attending the Club for 2 years. you can see Alina in the art room creating some amazing artwork with a smile on her face.
“Why don’t we go to the moon anymore?” This question was asked by Gavin, a green-haired incoming 6th grader entering LaVenture Middle School. Gavin along with twenty other middle school students recently participated in Launch Camp, a NASA-inspired space program run by Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County. The youth came from all across Skagit County, from La Conner to Concrete, all united by a desire to better understand space.
Although the youth were disappointed that NASA no longer sends astronauts to the moon, they were excited by the possibility of establishing a Mars colony at some point in their future. During the four day camp, they learned how to program robotics, designed 3D printing models, learned about many of the principles of flights, and culminated the camp by launching water rockets. The activities enabled them to imagine becoming NASA scientists or even Mars colonists. At the end of the camp, all of the youth expressed a desire to continue learning about science and technology.
Many of the robotics and rocketry activities at Launch Camp came from the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline (NESSP), a NASA-funded educational outreach program. “The kids loved the idea that NASA was investing in them,” said Nathan Allen, co-leader of Launch Camp, “We worked to make it clear that NASA invests in the future of science – that used to be moon landings but now it’s our youth.” During the school year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County will continue to use the NESSP’s curriculum resources to empower youth. In addition to robotics and rocketry, youth will learn about environmental science and contribute data to NASA scientists through the NASA Globe program.
Throughout the week, the youth at Launch Camp asked many excellent questions about space and the universe. But, on the last day, most of the participants asked the questions “can Launch Camp last longer?” and “will there be Launch Camp next year?” Youth in the Clubs will be empowered by Launch Camp and the lessons they learned for the rest of the school year.
Club members were able to visit the Seattle Art Museum this summer. Stefano Perruccio, the Clubs’ Art Specialist was one of the chaperones for the trip. Stefano spends time at each of the Clubs coming up with thoughtful art projects for the youth to participate in and he was especially excited about this opportunity. “The museum trip offered an exposure to a variety of art within many cultures all over the world, from modern, to traditional, to indigenous all in one space. I enjoyed witnessing their engagement and energy,” he said.
Tammy Findlay, Director of Marketing, was also able to make the trip and snap some photos. Of her experience on the trip, she said, “One of the first exhibits we viewed was a very large sculpture of an oversized black mouse sitting on top of a man lying in bed all in white. I asked one of the members if they had any thoughts on what it meant. They were confused by the question, but then had a very literal interpretation. ‘A big rat sat on him and he’s probably dead.’ I said I didn’t know what the sculpture meant, but that maybe the mouse represented something like anxiety. They said, ‘that’s weird!’ I continued asking members about details of various exhibits throughout, and soon members were coming up to me and sharing their interpretation of the art. I really enjoyed their thought process, and how they became more engaged when they realized that they were allowed to have an opinion about what they were viewing.”
In addition to admiring the works of art, kids were challenged to remain quiet, not touch the work and adhere to boundaries set by the museum. A difficult feat, to say the least, but they all did a masterful job overall. Stefano remarked that he wished museums were more accessible to a younger audience, more interactive, and not so “buttoned-up”. This might have been one of the reasons that they loved the Three Empathics virtual display, part of the African art collection. The dark room featured neon-projecting, changing images on the wall and on the floor while playing calming music. Some of the youth mimicked the poses of the 3 seemingly meditating or yogic figures and let the images display on them as they lay on the floor.
Stefano followed up the experience with an art project. He explained, “After the trip, members created their own masks with paper mâché, exploring all the different styles of masks that we saw at the museum, Pacific Islander, Latin American, African American, and Native American. This brought the experience full-circle and provided hands-on learning that was more relatable for them, instead of the strictly academic viewpoint of the museum. This gave them the opportunity to be directly engaged, creating, instead of only viewing.”
Exposure to different types of artwork has shown to have an impact on kids learning and overall academic health. Visiting the museum, and providing Club kids with an “adult” perspective on art is just one more tool that helps the Clubs achieve one of their priority outcomes of Academic Success.
Many people see “math” as a four letter word. In middle school, math begins to change for students and many students find the transition challenging. Instead of using operations that most calculators can do, students begin learning about more abstract concepts like negative numbers, functions, and proportional relationships. But, for one 6th grade student at La Venture Middle School, math is a challenge to be surmounted.
Wilfrido wants to become “un profesor de mathematics” — a mathematics professor. Wilfrido came to LaVenture part way through the year and has been focused on one goal, to complete as much of the online math program Khan Academy as possible. Amazingly, Wilfredo has finished working through all of the math concepts for 6th grade, most of the concepts for 7th grade, and has begun working on 8th-grade mathematics without an advantage given to most of his peers. Wilfrido only speaks Spanish.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County run an after-school program at LaVenture Middle School called Flying Falcons. During Flying Falcons, all members complete at least an hour of homework with staff assistance, a program known as Power Hour. Wilfrido completes as much math as possible during this time and will even choose to do math when more traditionally enjoyable activities are available.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Nathan Allen, Director of STEM Initiatives for Boys & Girls Clubs. “As a former middle school math teacher, I’ve seen students make huge gains during a year. But, I’ve never seen someone work persistently through two grade levels of math, let alone an English Language Learner. He’s extraordinary.” Because of Nathan’s history as a math teacher, Wilfrido will often come to him with math questions, often needing to teach Nathan Spanish in the process.
Some students will volunteer to help Wilfrido or translate for him, only to find that he understands the math more completely than them. Like his peers, he enjoys playing games on the computer and joking around with his friends. But, given the choice, he logs onto Khan Academy with a mischievous smile and searches for a new math concept to master.
From a simple game of Duck-Duck-Goose, to a live full size games of Battleship, Triple Play always has a way to make exercising fun and active for our Club kids.
Triple Play is the second most used program both in our Clubs, and nationally, right behind the Power Hour program. Triple Play is designed to give kids different ways to stay active and is a game plan for the mind, body, and soul.
Every game we play encourages social interactions, teamwork, strategy, and being active, and we love mixing it up to keep things fresh. Games such as five-finger-soccer, which has the same rules of soccer but instead of kicking the ball around, when someone gets the ball they have to stand still and throw it to teammates, encourage teamwork, collaboration, and activity. Meanwhile other games such as Bow and Stern, an edited more intense version of Simon Says, focus on staying sharp and on your feet ready to move.
Triple Play brightens our kid’s days and gives them a fun chance to play and interact with each other.
The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon is usually full of color, sound, and activity everywhere you look. But every Thursday, there is a pocket of near silence among the organized chaos of the Club as members have the option to walk into a quiet room, stocked with coloring sheets and colored pencils. There, members can take a quick break in a relaxing, calm, quiet environment as a part of “Story Time with Callie”.
Callie Shoemaker, Mount Vernon library assistant, has continued this long-running tradition at the Mount Vernon Club. “When I took over the position, this was one of the projects I decided I’d keep going” said Callie. Every week, for just over two years now, a library assistant has come to the Club to read to members as the members get to relax, color, and listen to the stories.
Story Time is a part of a larger program at the Mount Vernon Club called Project Learn. Every week there are
different themes for the days, such as Limerick day or National Walnut Day. Callie takes these themes and brings in a selection of books based on them.
“I really like bringing in some books related to the theme, new arrivals in the library, and some personal favorites to read to the kids” said Callie. The members get to choose which books they want Callie to read.
As kids start to get into middle school and high school, they are asked more and more frequently to start making important decisions about what they want to do with their lives. Career Launch is a program that gives members new tools to help make these important decisions.
Every week, Teen Centers in our Clubs invite guest speakers to share their experiences with the members. Our teens have heard from a variety of people in different professions, and different stages of their professional careers.
This week the Sedro Woolley teens welcomed Holly Shannon as guest speaker. Holly is a lawyer and has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County for the past 3 years. She currently serves as Board President.
As part of our Career Launch programming, Holly spoke about receiving a Bachelor’s degree in History from Western Washington University and her Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University. The members heard about how every day is different and how she works with around 300 clients! Fortunately, not all 300 of them need something every day.
Originally, Holly wanted to be a teacher but after looking into the law field and its history, she decided she’d rather be a lawyer. This sentiment, of discovering a new interest and pursuing it as a career, has been a common one with guest speakers. It’s a valuable lesson for our members to hear as we encourage them to make plans for their Great Futures!
Thanks for stopping by Holly! The teens really enjoyed having you visit and hearing about an exciting profession!
Kylie is a third grader at Jefferson Elementary. She has only been coming to the Club since the beginning of this school year, but in that time she has shown great character through her respectful demeanor and the value she places on those around. She has been a wonderful addition to the Mount Vernon Club environment.
Boy of the Month
Manuel C. Age 10
Manuel is a fourth grader at Centennial Elementary. He has been part of our club for three and a half years. In that time, Manuel has shown himself a leader by participating in a variety of activities at the club, working hard on his homework and being respectful. We have so enjoyed having him be part of our club.
Samuel T. Age 9
Samuel is a fourth grader at Little Mountain Elementary. He has been part of our club since May 2017. When Sam is at the club you can almost always find him deeply immersed in whatever book he’s currently reading or doing his homework in Power Hour. He also participates in our outdoor games regularly. Overall, he is a well rounded young man who models the importance of expanding one’s mind on a regular basis.
Artist of the Month
Daisy M. Age 9
Daisy is a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary. She first joined our club in November 2015. Daisy is an absolute pleasure to be around her sweet, caring and respectful personality makes her a leader in the making. She is a creative person and loves participating in art. We are excited to see her continue to grow as a leader and as an artist.
Triple Play MVP (Sportsmanship Award)
Giovanni M. Age 9
Giovanni is a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary. He first joined our club in November 2015. When he’s at the club you can almost always find him outside participating in Triple Play or chatting with his friends in the gamesroom. He loves participating in a variety of outdoor activities and shows good sportsmanship as well. We are excited to see him continue to grow into a young leader.