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J. Hood Wright Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, March 2, 2004

TIME WELL SPENT


Photograph by Spencer T Tucker

Have you ever spent a vacation idling your hours away? Have you ever secretly wished you were back at school (or work, as the case may be)? During New York City’s mid-winter recess, from February 17 to February 20, public school students found themselves with time on their hands. At Parks & Recreation, we did our best to fend off the possibility of boredom and stimulate the diverse interests of our city’s students. Central Recreation organized “Drama Camp” for budding actors, ran the second annual “Art Week for Young Illustrators” in collaboration with the Society of Illustrators, launched an indoor soccer league, and masterminded a brain games tournament.

AfterSchool teachers nominated children from across the city to take part in Parks & Recreation’s drama and illustration clinics. In Drama Camp, led by Nick Garr, founder and director of the Bronx-based City Theatre Project, young thespians learned new songs, dances, and scenes, and performed them for an enthusiastic audience of seniors at Owen Dolen Recreation Center, where the camp was based. One Drama Camp participant, Carla Garcia, wrote in her application, “I like to dance. I like to use my voice. I like to be in front of people. I’m not nervous in front of an audience.” Art Week applicant Eliana from J. Hood Wright wrote, “I like making art because it is like talking about living things around us. I like making art about things I see.” Professional artists from the Society of Illustrators taught students how to draw from a live model using charcoal. After class, the children went to the Society to eat lunch, refuel, and then travel with AfterSchool chaperones to museums around the city.

While visual and dramatic artists developed their creative talents, Queens Recreation’s indoor soccer teams competed at Roy Wilkins Family Center as part of the Emigrant Savings Bank’s Indoor Soccer League. The competitions will culminate in a championship on April 24. Children, staff, and spectators wait with baited breath to see who will be this year’s winner. Right now, it’s anyone’s game.

Meanwhile, a different sort of competition was brewing at the George Cromwell Recreation Center in Staten Island. On February 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., there was a palpable racing of minds as youth from four boroughs challenged themselves and each other in games of Boggle, Checkers, Chess, Connect Four, and Mancala. In addition to flexing their cranial muscles, participants exercised their creativity, creating stickers and flipbooks on computers. The brain games tournaments were followed by a trivia finale with categories such as African-American History, Entertainment, Literature, Math, Nature, and Sports. The boroughs were represented by teams of five, with Staten Island emerging as top seed, and Brooklyn a close second. Two-time Boggle winner Michelle Roach said of the tournament, “It was fun,” and she described the trivia contest as exciting.”

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

“There is a time for some things, and a time for all things; a time for great things, and a time for small things.”

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616)

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