Pittsford students shared Candlelight Night with student partners at PUC Achieve Charter School in Rochester as part of the RocKidsConnect program.
For the December activity, the afternoon started at Pittsford Sutherland High School for students to connect with their partners and engage in an interactive learning activity, focused on understanding personal talents.
Students, staff and administrators then walked to Candlelight Night to share the village traditional event.
“I really had the time of my life,” said Yamonte Smith, PUC Achieve student.
Students learned about Pittsford businesses, town and village offices and even the Erie Canal. Participants also participated in frosting holiday cookies, saying hello to the sleigh-ride horses and watching live performances by other students.
“The night brought many people closer together, and it made many bonds. It was an amazing time and it made many souls light up,” said Yashira Brown, PUC Achieve student.
Rochester Kids, a local nonprofit group, aims to make a difference in the lives of Rochester youth by lending a hand to support future success. It was established in memory of Jeff Milano-Johnson, a Pittsford student, who died of a ruptured brain aneurysm while warming up for a lacrosse game. Several minutes after Milano-Johnson collapsed on the lacrosse field, Shamar Patterson was killed in a drive-by shooting in Rochester. Milano-Johnson and Patterson’s mothers met in the hospital the day their sons died. It is the image of Milano-Johnson and Patterson leaving the world together that has sharpened the focus of Rochester Kids, which works toward bridging the gap between the city of Rochester and its suburbs.
RocKidsConnect is their newest initiative that strives to enrich the lives of city and suburban youth through a student exchange program in which kids from both communities meet, learn from and play with each other. The project goal is to create an equitable community and strengthen Rochester’s vitality. Specifically, this program is designed to build positive relationships, support reciprocal understanding of the diversity within the community and promote a community of scholars through academic learning activities.
The RocKidsConnect partnership aligns with the Pittsford Central School District mission to provide a community that works collaboratively to inspire and prepare students to be their best, do their best and make a difference in the lives of others.
Students can learn by explaining ideas to others and by participating in activities where they can learn from their peers. Skills can be developed in organizing and planning, working collaboratively with others, giving and receiving feedback and evaluating performance.
“I have really been enjoying this exchange program that embraces diversity and fosters inclusion. These regular interactions allow kids to figure out how to build meaningful relationships,” said Griffin Cross, Sutherland High School student.
“This program has the potential to change lives not just for these students but for their families and friends as well,” said Mary Jane Milano, executive director of Rochester Kids.
The evening concluded at the offices of Re/Max Pittsford’s Amy Petrone, associate real estate broker; and Tom Schnorr, broker/owner, with a pizza party.