Q & A With the Maker of Squirrel Squad!
For the past year, Lyric (aka Jack) Hughes, a high school senior at Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS), worked in the ROCS afterschool program. His growth over his time at ROCS, along with the countless other high school interns we’ve had in our midst the past three years, illustrates the impact our learner-driven educational space benefits not only the kids enrolled in our programs, but their educators as well.
This spring, Lyric led a club he dubbed “Squirrel Squad.” The program was designed to introduce kids to outdoor survival skills and new ways to have fun in our natural play area. As the year wound to a close, we asked him a few questions about his time at ROCS.
ROCS: How did you first learn about Red Oak Community School?
Lyric: I learned about Red Oak through a website my internship coordinator made for us to find our internships for this school year. What immediately attracted me was the idea of working in the outdoors with children, something that I had experience with from Camp Wyandot, the camp I volunteer and work at during the summer. This internship and the job I was offered a few weeks into the school year have both taught me how to deal with stressful situations when it comes to early elementary education and how to teach children in a way that they will remember the information directed towards them. I am very grateful for all the experiences that I have had at Red Oak this year, and many of them have improved who I am as an educator and a person.
ROCS: What are a few moments and experiences that stand out to you from your time at ROCS?
Lyric: Some of my favorite experiences from my internship came from the four lessons I was able to teach in my time there. The lessons focused mostly on the senses and how children can adapt to challenges, like sight being taken away, while completing a task. One of my favorite lessons I did was the String Walk because it challenged the children (Cardinals 2 and Hawks) to rely on their senses other than sight to make their way through an obstacle course while being guided by a single string. I enjoyed watching the children realize their environment, learn from their mistakes, and finish the course with confidence, all while being blindfolded.
My favorite memories I have from working in the Clubhouse aftercare program all stem from the lessons I was able to teach from ROCStars, the music club, and Squirrel Squad, the outdoor skills club. In ROCStars, I gave the children free reign over the provided instruments and I watched some of them genuinely take an interest in the instruments they were playing, and I hope that the club inspired some of the students to want to learn music down the road. Squirrel Squad is still in progress but the lessons I have completed so far have been some of my favorites this year, one specific one being teaching the game “Firestalker.” The children received the game so well that I’ve heard they started to play it before and during school as well, which gives me lots of hope for the lessons to come.
ROCS: What was your inspiration for Squirrel Squad?
Lyric: When Cheryl told the Clubhouse staff that we would be implementing specific after-school clubs taught by each of us, the first place my mind went to was outdoor skills. I knew that once the weather started to improve I wanted to test out some ideas I had for camp this coming summer, and so far Squirrel Squad has been the perfect place to do so. I have plans to do lessons in the future involving nature identification, shelter building, and team-building activities, which are some of the most important things taught at camp. I am so grateful to have the opportunity at Red Oak to execute these ideas and flesh them out into lessons. As for the name, the children came up with it, and it is easily one of my favorite parts about the club.
ROCS: What do you plan to do after you graduate next month? What are your hopes for the future and how do you think your time at Red Oak helped you prepare?
Lyric: After graduating high school and working as a counselor at Camp Wyandot for seven weeks this summer I am going to enter into my freshman year of college at Ohio University in Athens. There I am either going to major in music production or outdoor education, though many plans are still up in the air. I am grateful to Red Oak for giving me the people skills and real-life career training that will give me an edge when I eventually make my way into the adult world. For the future I am not sure what I want to become yet, but through the skills I developed in my internship and job with Red Oak this year I feel prepared to take on whatever is in my way.