CCVA Cubs Program spearheads new initiatives

Mayanka Dhingra, Staff Writer

The Connect, Unite, and Build through Service program (CUBS) held its first onsite meeting on Tuesday to kick off initiatives for the year.

Student participants in the program traveled to the neighboring AmPark Elementary public school to meet the younger students and undergo formal training in preparation for their work in CUBS this year.

CUBS, based off of a laboratory program in many universities and institutions, is a way for the Service Learning Team (SLT) as a whole to learn from the CUBS experience and adapt the same ideas to their work with outside partner agencies, Center for Community Values and Action (CCVA) Director Dr. Jeremy Leeds said.

The program, which is entering its fifth year, is unique in that it is one of the few Service Learning programs in which students from outside come to the school rather than SLT members going there, Leeds said.

Fourth and fifth grade students from AmPark visit the school’s campus every Tuesday to participate in a variety of activities planned solely by student leaders of the initiative, Taussi Boadi (11), a returning member of the CUBS program, said.

Rather than kids sticking with one activity for the entire trimester as done in SLT, CUBS completes three 25 minute rotations every Tuesday so that students get an opportunity to experience a wider range of activities.

The program is designed for students who want to take on more responsibility having previously been on the team and requires a year’s worth of experience on SLT and a two-trimester commitment for a place in the program, Leeds said.

The first visit for CUBS is a crucial pre-reflection exercise for HM students and faculty to learn more about the students, staff, facilities, and programs at AmPark by being present and being a part of their daily activities, Associate Director of the CCVA Kimberly Joyce-Bernard said. 

Gregorio Florentino-Sanchez (11) believes that the smaller group experience allows members of the program to make deeper connections with the kids, he said.

“This year, one of the new initiatives is for each activity we do to build up to one larger idea, and in the end, we will have the kids present what they have learned,” Boadi said.

This year, the student leaders decided to create a STEM, hip-hop, and P.E. class as well as a teambuilding workshop of their own design, Tiger Moreno (11) said.

Moreno, who started the hip-hop class, decided to introduce iconic old hip-hop songs usually by artists from the Bronx and dance with the kids, she said.

The hip-hop curriculum gives the fourth and fifth graders the opportunity to learn more about the South Bronx’s integral role in the art form, Joyce-Bernard said.

The hip-hop class demonstrates the mission of CUBS, which is to challenge HM students to develop meaningful activities sparked by their own interests and to allow Ampark students to connect to their own community, she said.

“There’s a sense of fulfillment and pride that our students get when they are the host – it’s just another way community service can be so meaningful to those being served and those in the position of service,” Office Assistant for the Admissions Office & Office of Diversity Niambi Busby said.