HM246 hosts in-person activities with Kingsbridge Heights Community Center


Oliver Konopko , Staff Writer

The HM246 service-learning program kicked off their winter trimester by hosting in-person visual arts, sports, and STEM activities with 40 kindergarten through fifth-graders students from the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (KHCC).

The school has been working with the KHCC since 2006 on numerous programs, including HM246 and the Center for Community Values and Action’s other after school program, the Service Learning Team (SLT). KHCC coordinates SLT at PS.207, while HM246 takes place at the school so students have access to resources such as the photo-lab that they may not get at their own schools, CCVA Program Coordinator Melissa Doellman said. 

The program has been very strong, CCVA Director Dr. Kimberly Joyce-Bernard said. “The KHCC students’ energy and excitement are palpable on Mondays.”

HM246 was virtual over the past two years and returned in person this fall, Doellman said. “I don’t think any of us were ready for the amount of energy that we would see on either side — the KHCC students were just absolutely elated.”

Covid and virtual learning helped the fellows improve their adaptability, CCVA Middle Division Coordinator and Associate Conasia Watts said. “I think our students have realized that you always have to have a plan B and a plan C on hand.”

Groups of fellows are assigned to each subject and spend Thursdays preparing for their Monday sessions.

Dylan Leftt (10) helps run the visual arts activity and pack supply bags for when the kids arrive, she said. The fellows have complete control over the activities they plan which allows them to be creative and share their interests with the kids, she said. For example, her group made penguins out of paper towel rolls using googly eyes and construction paper. The fellows do their best to plan activities the kids will enjoy, but sometimes they fall short. 

Seifan enjoys spending time with the same kids each week and developing strong connections, he said. “I’ve been seeing these kids since the fall and I know them all,” Seifan said. “It’s like a mentor or big brother situation.”

HM246 can serve as a break for both the fellows and the students as it allows them to form connections and gain a new perspective by interacting with people outside school, Doellman said. “The world is heavy and our days can be heavy, so having that immediate moment of joy at the end of the day is something I’ve always hoped the fellows have.”