Celebrating our Junior Coaches at Junior Coach Graduation

  1. Updates

On Saturday, June 3, over 85 Junior Coaches and their families gathered at the Lilla G. Frederick School to celebrate a year of hard work and leadership from these 4th and 5th grade student leaders.

For many students across Boston, Lawrence, New Bedford, and beyond, being a Junior Coach is their favorite part of the school day. As a Junior Coach, these students receive leadership training from their Playworks Coach throughout the year and take those leadership skills out to recess with younger students to help resolve conflicts, be inclusive, and play games. Our annual Graduation Ceremony is a chance to celebrate their dedication to peer leadership throughout the year, and have fun!

When speaking about why they chose to be a Junior Coach, JC Camilo said, “Being a Junior Coach interested me [because I wanted to] become a leader. I am now an important part of my school community and a role model for all students… [Being a Junior Coach] is a big responsibility but I took it seriously and it helped me grow.”

Despite the rainy weather on Saturday, Junior Coaches and their families did the thing we all do best – played! While rotating through game stations, JCs were encouraged to get stamps in their “passports”, showing that they had completed the different activities such as playing baseball, taking a picture at the photo booth, or showing off their best dance moves at the dance station. Once passports were complete, students could trade them in for raffle tickets to win incredible prizes such as free ice cream from JP Licks, New England Aquarium tickets, and pre-season tickets to a Patriots game.

After an hour of play, everyone transitioned into the gym and the graduation ceremony began. Special speakers included Junior Coaches from the Mather School and the Frost School, Playworks Executive Director, Renee Gaudette, and Emily Westgate, a former Playworker and current employee of the New Bedford School District.

Emily shared what the Junior Coach program meant to her, saying, “I know that when I see those [Junior Coach] purple shirts on the recess yard, that all students are being invited to play… Our 4th and 5th graders are building essential skills that will position them to be leaders well beyond the playground. I know that when Junior Coaches are outside at recess, recess is a more inclusive and fun experience for all students. The Junior Coach Program is an example of the immense power that peer leadership holds.”

Following the inspiring speaking portion, Junior Coaches were called up one by one to receive their graduation certificate from their Coach while their family and friends cheered them on, signaling their graduation from the program. In addition to receiving their certificate, every group of Junior Coaches received a classic Playworks “Whoosh Clap” from the crowd, showing their appreciation and respect. After all students graduated and raffle prizes were announced, it was time for students and families to head home for the day.

“I’m so proud of my Junior Coaches for so many reasons,” said Site Coordinator Sofia. “When I come out onto the playground, they look like they don’t even need me anymore… they are so sure of themselves as leaders and I couldn’t be prouder.”

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