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January 31, 2024

By Emma Johnson, Communications Manager

At the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, we are dedicated to delivering a rigorous academic experience while acknowledging the significance of laughter, play, and movement in a child’s development, which is especially important at the elementary level.

The opportunities to be playful and explore interests extend to the dynamic after school programs offered to families at Ethical Culture, Fieldston Lower, and Fieldston Middle, which cater to academic growth and prioritize creativity, teamwork, and personal expression. This fall and winter, families at Ethical Culture had the opportunity to place their children in a wide range of classes open to students of all ages, from DramaZone, Mohr’s Explorers, Tournament Chess, and Sports of All Sorts to SuperScience, Lego Robotics, Ice Skating, and even Mystery of Magic!

The After School program at Ethical Culture uses spaces within the building, and students also get the opportunity to leave campus and explore all that New York City has to offer. The Ice Skating program, for example, takes students to Wollman Rink in Central Park every Friday afternoon, where students can skate with friends and family. Once they return to the School, they even enjoy a hot chocolate treat! 

Similarly, the Wildlife Detectives class focuses on conservation, zoology, and ecology, including marine and urban ecology. As part of the program, students go on two field trips to the Central Park Zoo!

The variety of the programs offered allows students to explore different interests and try out new things they may not have the opportunity to do during a typical school day. Thanks to the dedication of Assistant Directors of After School and Auxiliary Programs Cathy Fleischmann and Sheyla Ortiz Peña and the instructors who are committed to bringing out the best in each student and honoring their creativity, this program allows students to unwind and play after a busy day learning in the classroom.

There are so many classes to choose from that students often have a hard time picking their favorite. While Xavier C. ’34 says, “Baseball is my favorite class because I like to play with my friends,” and Jesse S. ’35 loves robotics because he gets to build, Ruby M. ’35 captured the after school experience perfectly: “I don’t have a favorite – I like them all!” 

Furthermore, the after school classes serve as continuations of the School’s academic approach, with each session being hands-on and experiential. These programs are designed to be responsive to student interests and, when suitable, provide challenges. A recent highlight was the final production of “Sing 2 the Musical” by students in the DramaZone program. The performance showcased their talents and brought smiles to the audience as students confidently sang, expressing joy and overcoming any stage fright in the process.

Many hobbies that burgeoned in after school activities have also led students to pursue and succeed in these areas as they get older. One notable example is the Tournament Chess program, from which many students have transitioned to winning tournaments and earning accolades with the ECFS Chess team!

Navigating beyond the classroom, the After School program provides a gateway for students to explore the vibrant city, offering unique experiences, enhancing students’ well-rounded educational journey, and instilling a love for learning that emphasizes play and goes beyond conventional academics.