Morning Star

Since 1994, HACAN has been involved in the community of Culmore, Bailey’s Crossroad, Virginia through its youth program: “Morning Star”. Since then, our program has expanded and provided activities every Saturday morning for more than 550 girls and boys in the Culmore community.
Morning Star develops individual resiliency by building the participant’s life skills, connecting them to positive role models and caring adults, engaging them in creative activities, and exposing them to opportunities and life experiences that motivate high expectations for their own futures. Through fun and interactive skill building activities, such as art and, craft activities, guitar classes, jewelry making, music and dance classes, service projects, and field trips HACAN strengthens the girls’ and boys’ self-esteem as means of breaking the cycle of poverty and low-education.
Morning Star program supports young girls and boys, ages 8 and older by exposing them to a variety of programs and mentoring such as: Smart Kids; Safe Choices (gang prevention), Good Touch-Bad Touch classes, Life Skills Program (Inova Health) and various community services projects. Morning Star has been recognized and awarded by many organizations such as The Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Bailey’s Crossroads Day Award, Penny Gross, Mason District Supervisor of Fairfax County and the Kiwanis Club of Arlington.
HACAN’s partnership with Childhelp USA has provided 30 “Morning Star” members and their siblings with mentors. In addition, morethan 50 middle school students from “Morning Star” have been referred to George Mason University’s Early Identification Program (EIP) for minority students. The IEP offers help with tutoring and support to students and their families to help the students graduate from high school and attend college. Furthermore, through our partnerships and collaborative efforts with other agencies and community organizations, Morning Star has referred 40 girls to Girl Scouts summer camps and 31 students to computer programs.
Every Saturday morning from 10:00 – 1:00 p.m., approximately 30-35 children attend Morning Star at the Woodrow Wilson Library in Culmore, VA, conveniently located within walking distance from their homes. Volunteers interact with the children, listen to, and read with them. A bi-monthly schedule for each Saturday is planned in advance. Activities include playing math games; conducing science experiments; and reading in small groups to improve English reading and comprehension. Morning Star” a program for young girls and boys, ages 8 and older. At weekly meetings, Morning Star provides participants with a safe environment that empowers and educates them to make wise decisions during their adolescence.

Math Curriculum

During the school year students spend their days in school and their afternoons doing homework for school. Making the best grades possible is important for all students. There are any number of reasons why some students may struggle with class work and homework. However, there is one element of math mastery that all students, no matter their grade level or level or ability, can readily improve—especially in the summer—that will boost their confidence level and skills no matter what math subject, skill or practical application they encounter in school or in the world. Math fluency is an essential and easily monitored aspect of overall math mastery. Ten minutes of targeted daily practice over the course of a summer provide students with an opportunity to develop number patterns and number sense, which leads to automaticity, which makes students more secure in their ability to manipulate numbers accurately and confidently. Once students have achieved this level of number manipulation, they will begin the next school year with confidence and they will be ever more ready to focus on the concepts that will be taught—free from the anxiety that they cannot quickly perform the basic operations (basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for lower elementary; and the aforementioned operations with fractions and integers for older elementary and middle school students).

In HACAN this summer, students will be assessed and provided with worksheets that cater to their individual needs. Every Saturday, students will do their worksheets for that day with their parents at their sides, as well as a trained Star volunteer who will be helping them progress and answering any questions the students or their parents have.

There are programs both on the computer or that can be downloaded from the Internet that address students’ fluency needs, but they cannot replace a systematic approach that is monitored closely by a supervisor, volunteer tutor/mentors and parents. HACAN will accommodate the individual need of its Morning Star students through supervision and monitoring and by using Engage New York’s fluency Sprints. Engage New York is a full curriculum, but embedded within it are fluency worksheets that are strategic in that the worksheets are timed and incremental in progression to ensure mastery of each operation.


Reading Curriculum

There will be two prongs to the reading program. As is standard, “K-2nd is the learning to read phase and 3rd-5th is the reading to learn phase,” the summer reading program will take this approach.

Students who are reading at or below F&P level I (EOY 1st grade) will be using the Vowels First Method intensively to develop phonics skills and deepen linguistic understanding of the phonemes and the basic spelling patterns of the English language. Each of these students will be assigned a volunteer Star member who will tutor him/her. An adult or older sibling who will also be learning the techniques and skills needed for mastery of the English reading code will accompany each child at least once a week. In this way, the responsibility for the child’s progress is shared with the parents, community, the mentor, and the supervisor. Early readers will commit to working twice a week with their tutor. On one of those days—either to Morning Star Saturday or another set day of the week—the parent will accompany the child to learn the expectations for the child and how to help at home, as well as to learn the basic phonics rules of English for him/herself if he/she is learning English.

Those students who are reading between F&P Level I and Level M will be assessed as to their understanding of word patterns using Words Their Way Spelling Assessment. Their phonics needs will be addressed on an as-needed basis. Students of these levels will be tasked to read and write about non-fiction topics (about an animal unless they prefer another topic) each time they come. Their unit will culminate with a research report using three or more books on this topic that includes all the features of a non-fiction book.


Students reading at N Level and above will be working in book clubs on a book based on their reading levels.

Below are potential Book Club books for differentiated reading levels:

F&P U and above—Phineas Gage

F&P R through T—Blood in the River

F&P N through Q—Max: Best Friend, Hero

Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect