Thursday, December 15, 2011

SLANT Spotlight On: Otis Brown 2nd Grade

Team:  2nd Grade, Otis Brown Elementary, Irving ISD
City:  Irving
Participants:  130

Otis Brown Elementary second grade students researched the need for food for kids at their school and found out about the North Texas Food Bank fire that occurred this summer.  Students were very concerned and decided to do something about it.  They wrote scripts, directed and filmed commercials for the school to promote the Cans for Kids food drive.  The children organized the drive, making fliers and posters to promote the drive.  They also counted and collected the cans and graphed the results, reporting the results to the school on the school television channel.

The children challenged the whole school to bring in cans and finally collected more than 1,000 cans for the North Texas Food Bank.  “The kids loved it and learned a lot about persuasion, graphing and service,” said teacher Michelle West.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Congrats to the Hill Middle School Law & Government Club!

On Saturday, December 10th, the Law & Government Club attended the YMCA 2011 District 5 Youth In Government Conference at The Jack Singley Academy in Irving.  Nine students represented Robert T. Hill Middle School as ambassadors.

We are proud to announce that one student, Nicholas, received an award for participating in a debate on new legislation needed to instigate laws toward punishment offenses.  Over all they each did a wonderful job representing Hill, Student Government Club & Thriving Minds After School!  We are looking forward to a wonderful trip to Austin in the spring for the state conference.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

We're "Gaga" Over This Year's Barneys New York Holiday Windows!

For the past few years, Barneys New York has invited students in the Thriving Minds After School program to create art for inclusion in their holiday window display.  This year Barneys teamed up with Lady Gaga to create a holiday initiative called GAGA'S WORKSHOP.

Students from Hill Middle School produced these creative Lady Gaga portraits currently on display at Barneys New York at NorthPark Center.  Be sure to stop by and check them out next time you're there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SLANT Spotlight On: Girls On The Run, North Richland Hills

Team: Girls on the Run, North Richland Hills
City: North Richland Hills
Participants: 20

The girls are currently working on several projects:  posting notes to raise the self-image of girls at their school, holding a food drive and delivering baskets to residents of a local retirement center.

They will make announcements at school to collect food for a community program called Christmas Providers.  The girls will tally up the food from each homeroom, box it up each day until collection day on Dec. 5, and then announce the winning class in the food drive.  They are also going to create and deliver Thanksgiving baskets for the residents of Horizon Bay.  In addition, they have been making their school a better place by placing anonymous, encouraging post-it notes in public places in their school.  The girls want to encourage their peers as well as senior citizens and others in their community.

Read more about the great SLANT projects currently underway in this month's issue of The Compass!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Thriving Minds Success Story

At Big Thought, our mission is to make imagination a part of everyday learning, and we do this daily for thousands of Dallas kids through the Thriving Minds After-School program. Giving kids opportunities to imagine possibilities and discover untapped talents is at the heart of this mission.

Prior to coming to the Thriving Minds After-School program at John Ireland Elementary, third-grader Mariyana Hill had never considered herself a dancer. Though the after-school program offered classes, she had never taken formal dance lessons. So when the Thriving Minds site manager asked who would be interested in attending a summer dance camp, Mariyana surprised herself by raising her hand, and soon found herself among hundreds of kids vying for a coveted spot at the Debbie Allen Dance Institute.

Held at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts in June, the two-week program was created by famed dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen to introduce participants to a range of dance of styles, including ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, African and tap. Despite her lack of experience, Mariyana snagged a spot at the camp.
“I was feeling scared, like I wouldn’t be able to pass,” she says of the tryouts. “But it was fun. We practiced the dances, and I pretended like it was my parents in the audience, so I was able to do it.”
Even more surprised was Mariyana’s mother, who had never considered this as an option for her child. But soon, she’d tapped into local resources to get Mariyana ballet and tap shoes and tights. Properly outfitted, Mariyana spent the next two weeks happily learning the difference between a pliĆ© and kick ball change.

The best part of the camp, says Mariyana was learning hip-hop dance, and getting to meet other kids from Thriving Minds after-school programs from around the city who had also been accepted into the program.

During the institute’s final performance, Mariyana was excited to perform for her parents. “My sister and uncle were there, too,” she says. “Afterwards they gave me flowers.”

The program, says her mother, has sparked a passion in her daughter that wasn’t there before.
On the first day of the after-school program in August, Mariyana ran up to the Thriving Minds site manager and asked with a big smile, “Mr. Spiller, can I please go to the Debbie Allen Dance Institute again this year?”
Her passion sparked, Mariyana is now continuing her dance lessons through the after-school program and even dreams of one-day attending Booker T. Washington. Imagine that….

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thriving Minds After School Photo Update

Here's a snapshot of what our Thriving Minds After School students have been up to the past few weeks:
On October 20, students from Marsh Middle School's LCC Club, part of the Thriving Minds After School program, participated in Dallas After School Network's Lights on Afterschool rally and presented the colors.  One of the students showed tremendous skill with the ROTC rifle as can be viewed in this video.
Learn more about DASN's iDo campaign at

Marsh Middle School recently hosted a pumpkin contest. Not only were the students dressed in Halloween attire but their pumpkins, too!  First, second and third place prizes went to the most creative and decorative pumpkin. 
Donald Elementary organized a cheer squad to perform for their America Scores soccer program.  The students cheered on their fellow classmates and encouraged team spirit from the families who attended.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stockard Students are Wild About Zoo Careers

The Thriving Minds After School program at Stockard Middle School is taking part in a pilot program with the Dallas Zoo that introduces participants to a variety of zoological careers. Once a week, a zoo educator visits the campus to discuss with students available career options—everything from veterinary medicine and horticulture to graphic design and construction. In addition, students get an up-close look at a variety of animals, including an armadillo, hedgehog and snake. Both Big Thought and the Dallas Zoo hope to expand the program to more Thriving Minds campuses soon.