The Jubilee Neighborhood School (JNS) program at Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream is enjoying a full schedule of fun and educational events this spring. JNS is an educational program that partners with parents and schools to support academic achievement of 1st-5th grade students.

On March 21, OCC hosted an orchestra concert with 45 orchestra members from Hawthorne, Lincoln, Longfellow, Lowell, Madison, Washington and Whittier Schools. It was attended by about 75 people. The concert celebrated “Music In Our Schools” month. “The District 200 orchestra teacher asked Outreach to host the concert to reach more of our community’s families,” says Mary Lundeen, OCC elementary program coordinator. “We are all excited about the partnership between Outreach and the schools, and everyone enjoyed the orchestra’s performance!”

The tutoring program continues to remain strong. Students have been working hard to improve academic skills, and relationships between students and tutors continue to grow and deepen. Mary says, “One student told his tutor, ‘My greatest accomplishment is being at Outreach, because I am doing great here!’”

Wheaton College tutors have set aside time to support the program’s youngest students in reading and math. “Congrats to them, for all that they have been able to accomplish!” says Mary. “We thank them for letting Outreach be a part of their student life while at the college.”

Friday Specials, which are fun, extracurricular electives for students, have included soccer, handknitting, Pinterest 101, WORD (World of Rhyme & Dance), rap composition, art and inventions. “We are so thankful that some of these activities are led by volunteers,” says Mary. “They really enjoy sharing in a small group setting.”

The HYACK College Church youth group has been leading “Fab Fridays” by providing all of JNS with a GOD Time devotion, crafts, game time, reading and other fun activities. “We have been enjoying their visits,” says Mary. “We really appreciate them and their efforts in being a part of the afterschool program.”

In addition to what’s happening at the Center, OCC’s satellite location at Villagebrook Apartments is focusing on spring events for the community.

According to Lathie Norton, Villagebrook program coordinator, the teen council successfully hosted a middle school party on March 11 and have begun enthusiastically brainstorming for their next event. One March 19, Villagebrook hosted the 2nd Annual Easter EGGStravaganza with an Easter egg hunt, craft and snack for all Villagebrook residents. “It was cold and a little rainy, but these tough Chicagoans were good sports and the kids had a blast!” says Lathie.

Residents warmed up at another event, a family reading night on March 21, which had a Mardi Gras/New Orleans jazz theme. Lathie says the night featured live jazz music, a reading of the children’s book “Trombone Shorty” and snacks.