This year we are proud to re-open our doors for the 14th consecutive year.

This year we also welcome a significantly larger group of students in K-3rd grades. That bodes well for our future after-school openings since these students represent our future graduating classes, and our next generation citizens.

This year also marks our greatest ethnic and cultural diversity in our student body. We welcome all of our new and returning students as we look forward to many more new after-school openings of Cedar Hill CDC's CASP.

New School Year 2014/2015

Try and Remember a Kind of September…

School Street Class2013 StudentsRemember the anticipation of your first day of school with the dread of summer ending, the worry if your teachers would be harder than last years, and the excitement of buying new clothes, shoes and school supplies?

All of those feelings were evident on the first day of Cedar Hill CDC's After School Program this fall. Here too, the children wondered if their same friends would be there to play with and if the staff would be as kind as the year previous. This month we welcomed several new students to the program who had no idea what to expect during their long hours here after school.

John Hill Class 2013 StudentsWe are pleased to say that the children have started the year with great success! The program is once again serving over 35 students, kindergarten through 6th grade in the town of Boonton. Shown in the above-right photo are our School Street students in grades K-3rd, staff and volunteers. Our John Hill students in grades 4-6, staff and volunteers are shown in the left-hand photo.

Thanks to a kind gift from a generous local donor, on their first day of school, each child received a cool canvas pencil pouch, filled with pens, erasers, bookmarks, and pencil sharpeners. The children particularly enjoyed the strawberry scented erasers.

Casp Circle TimeOur daily group meetings, shown in the right-hand photo, are again a vital spring board for communication. The focus at our meetings this year is building a strong sense of community among the children, while celebrating each child's unique cultural background. We assembled "Our Nations Flags." Thirty-five individual flags were ordered that represent the countries that the children and their families hail from.

At our initial group meeting the children were told that we were ordering the flags. Almost every child questioned if I had indeed remembered their unique flag and heritage. I assured them I had. You could see the pride on their face that something very important to them mattered to others and would be proudly on display in the Center.

Our Nations Flags

When all the flags arrived we took turns holding them up and standing with the different countries that represented our heritage. Some of the children were surprised to see that many of us are bi-cultural and that many of our roots are the same.

We discussed what the colors represented on the flags and the meaning behind many of the symbols. The children then were given the opportunity to make their own flags that represented them! Children chose basketballs, horses, flowers, peace signs, their friend's names and such to represent who they are and what is important to them.

Student with SunflowerWith the seasons changing, the children watched as the flower seeds that they planted last spring, grew into 7 foot high sunflowers over the summer and slowly faded with the coming of fall. We dissected the flowers to find sunflower seeds tightly hidden in their core. Many children were surprised to see the origin of the familiar seeds they had planted. With this "teachable moment" we talked about the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Leaves have been a theme in the art center. One favorite area is "The Textiles Shelf" with simple button sewing and beading. The children were introduced to the concept of weaving using large and small paper leaf mats with colorful strips to make checkerboard patterns. We used the leaves to decorate and celebrate the coming season.

CASP Friends

The CASP children have been revisiting the qualities of good character. We have been focusing on citizenship, responsibility, honesty, kindness, cultural sensitivity and safety.

The children saw their efforts rewarded with the arrival of the CASP parakeets Zoo Zoo & Boo Boo. Everyone showed kindness and empathy towards the little birds. We then voted and purchased a small aquarium! The children helped put the rocks and plants in and finally the fish! They felt very responsible and full of pride to have these small creatures to care for.

"Try and remember the kind of September when life was slow, and oh so mellow".

At Cedar Hill/St. John's CASP the children had a safe, calm and nurturing start to their hours after school this year. Thank you to all that made it possible.

Bridget Burke Weiss
Executive Director
Cedar Hill CDC

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