Washington Middle School seventh grader Kiara Medina stepped up to the microphone at the Family of Notes Entertainment recording studio to record tracks to her song “Take a Look in the Mirror.” Kiara, who wrote the song about a friend who leaves another friend for popularity, was learning how to professionally record a song as part of the Eastside Y Middle School Academy TV program, which teaches fifth through eighth grade students to produce short videos. The Eastside TV Program is one component of the JPS 21st Century After School Program, which funds a special instruction collaboration with the Arts Council for Chautauqua County’s teacher and artist, Barry Meyer. As part of the class, students decided to produce a music video of Kiara’s song.
“I love to write and sing,” said Kiara. “It is really cool that the Eastside TV is going to make a video of my song. It’s really good for kids to get an opportunity to show what they can do and to try new things. Doing activities after school like Eastside TV gives kids exposure to things they might not have ever done before but might want to do in the future.”
Family of Notes Entertainment is taking Kiara’s vocals and adding music. Then, the class will produce a video to go along with the audio.
“I love doing Eastside TV,” said Washington Middle School sixth grader Isaiah Quigley. “Making videos has always been a passion of mine but I never had the professional equipment to learn on. At Eastside TV, I get to use the equipment for free. Having the after school program lets us all work together on a project and opens you up to try things that you might want to do when you get older. I want to do something in this area when I grow up and the program lets you try different areas and figure out what will be best for you.”
Besides the music video, students have also created a PSA and are working on producing short movies. The Eastside Y Middle School Academy is one of nearly a dozen after school programs provided through a creative, responsive blending of funding and service collaborations throughout the JPS district. After School Program Activity Specialists plan and facilitate a wide variety of high-interest, high-fidelity youth development experiences in concert with several community organizations, including Chautauqua Striders Tutors, who provide academic support, The Arts Council and CASAC.
“The Middle School Academy helps this age group build a better academic foundation. Our staff uses the NYS Common Core Standards to create curriculum,” said John Barber, YMCA Teen & Middle School Academy Director. “Another important aspect of the Middle School Academy is to help our English as a Second Language students who may need extra academic help in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.”
The Eastside YMCA Middle School Academy offers daily activities including, “Science Slam” where student do research on a science topic and then write differing viewpoints on a subject such as “how did the dinosaurs become extinct?”
There is a Poetry class where students read and write their own poetry. BFF (Best Friends Forever) through CASAC focuses on how to build healthy friendships. Barber Shop and Beauty Parlor splits the boys and girls into different activities where they work on leadership skills and character building. Beauty Shop also has a unique connection with YMCA Teen Center where the high school students mentor the middle school students by journaling and becoming pen pals. Dream Wall is an art activity where a mural is being painted on the Eastside YMCA wall and students are adding “pieces” to the artistic puzzle. Students can also try Beginning Guitar, help create a Christmas Play and take part in other free time activities. For more information on the JPS/Eastside Y’s Middle School Academy call 484-3729 or check out the JPS After School Website or Eastside Y.