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Building Virtual Community

Last December, the Raley’s Team at Rosa Parks K-8 began hosting weekly “brain breaks” and clubs for students. These half-hour sessions are led by ACMs and provide a fun, non-academic space for students to hang out and engage in different virtual activities. Brain breaks are held every Wednesday and activities vary from scavenger hunts to drawing Among Us characters to taking a virtual vacation around the world. Students often get so excited to see their friends from other classes that they spend the entire session talking to each other in the chat about anything and everything.

Clubs are held every Thursday and provide another opportunity for students to hang out without academic pressure. There are currently four clubs at Rosa Parks K-8: ASL, Art/Creativity, Anime, and Brown Issues. While the other clubs are entirely led by City Year AmeriCorps members, the Brown Issues club is put on by the organization Brown Issues, a California youth-led advocacy group. It’s open to students in grades 7-8 and provides an amazing opportunity for students to connect and share about how race and racism have impacted their community and their lives. All of these spaces allow students to explore their interests and share their experiences in a supportive environment.

Even though clubs have only been running for a little over two months, they have already proven to be rewarding for both City Years and the students we serve. The ASL Club members have worked their way through different categories of signs, including animals, people, colors, and the alphabet. Students have been having such a great time and are learning so quickly that they’re now working on signing their first song! The art/creativity club continues to provide students an opportunity to express themselves and work on their art skills in a supportive environment. Anime Club has been a great space for students to bond over a common interest. Students love talking about their favorite characters, watching new shows together, and learning about the behind-the-scenes of anime production. In Brown Issues, the focus remains on building community. Each meeting begins with participants sharing any highlights or difficulties from their week. From there, activities range from fun icebreakers to reflecting on the community we live in and how to best support that community. Missing out on all the socializing that takes place on a physical campus has been hard on students, but holding these online spaces has been a great way to keep students engaged with their peers.

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