By Maureen "Moe" Dugan - Program & Development Director
In addition to the student athletes we serve in our year round program, Portland After-School Tennis and Education, Inc partners with SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) After-School Programs to provide tennis and educational fun to at-risk low income students three times during the school year. 30 students from 1st to 5th grade just graduated from their tuition-free 8 week program! Each week two groups of 15 students came to St Johns Racquet Center in Portland, Oregon to learn about African Animals, play tennis, work on life skills and participate in our fitness dances! Like our year round students, the SUN groups selected an animal to learn about and then created cheers and artwork about their chosen animals! They became known as the Brave Baboons and the Joyful Giraffes!
The graduation ceremony was followed by an amazing performance at the SUN After-School Showcase where the Brave Baboons and Joyful Giraffes were joined by the Classy Chimpanzees (K-3rd grade), the Elite Elephants (4-5th grade) and the Cheetah Champs (6th grade) to dance to the "Waka Waka!" The students had worked hard on perfecting their moves and it paid off!
For our SUN school students this was a special moment as they got to perform with the year round PAST&E student athletes for the first time. They felt a strong sense of community and belonging and know that they have a second home at PAST&E. Furthermore, they've shown they've got the confidence to perform in front of a large group! We're so proud of their accomplishments and hope we'll see them again soon!
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