Fuller Aviators After School Program Explores Downtown

Downtown Framingham, Inc. hosted 30 Fuller Middle School students for a history tour and scavenger hunt of the downtown district on Monday May 14.

The students were guided from the old Danforth Art building to the Memorial Building where they were asked to find the Women Veterans Plaque for the first question on their scavenger hunt. DFI's Executive Director Courtney Thraen greeted the students on the patio outside of the Memorial Building before ushering them inside to explore the lobby area where they had to seek out the plaque that fit the description on their scavenger hunt.

Students found the Women Veterans Memorial inside of the Memorial Building to answer the first question on their scavenger hunt.

Next, students headed north on Concord Street and visited Sofa Cafe, a local coffee shop and roasting facility that opened last year. Students piled into the coffee shop and listened attentively to figure out where they could find the roasting computer that would give them the answer to the second question on their scavenger hunt.

Students learned about Sofa Cafe's roasting facility during a stop at the Cafe during the scavenger hunt on May 14.

Thraen then led students down Concord Street to Atlantis Dental.

Dr. Sumbul Naqvi welcomed the students and answered questions about her practice and how she decided to become a dentist.

"When I was a young girl, I had very bad teeth and so I didn't like to smile or talk to anyone because I was embarrassed. Then, I met a dentist who helped me get braces and have a beautiful smile and she inspired me to become a dentist so that I could help other people in the same way that she helped me," said Naqvi.

Atlantis Dental gave all of the students dental hygiene kits after they listened to Naqvi speak.

Dr. Sumbul Naqvi spoke to students about how she became a dentist and why it's important to have health services like her business in downtown districts like Framingham's.

After leaving Atlantis Dental, students gathered on the sidewalk to talk about the historic Kendall and Amsden buildings and the new development being constructed by Wood Properties. The new mixed-use building site was where students could find the hydraulic excavator they needed to answer the next question on their scavenger hunt.

After talking about the importance of this transit-oriented development, students explored the downtown common where they learned about the history of their city through the monumental "books" stationed around the center of the park. Thraen also spoke about the historic Armenian Church and how it had the first steeple in all of Framingham.


Students then headed to the MBTA parking lot where they learned about the history of the train depot that now houses Depot 417. Afterwards, students took individual and group photos in front of Sorin Bica's mural and answered another question on their scavenger hunt about the "giant people" of downtown.

Students made their way across the tracks and learned about one of the downtown restaurants Pueblito Paisa before walking to their final destination: the Amazing Things Art Center.

At Amazing Things, students learned about local arts and entertainment that are hosted in the old firehouse. Students also learned that the answer to the last question on their scavenger hunt (Home of Prince) wasn't referring to the singer, but rather the horse that used to live and work in the firehouse that is now home to Amazing Things.

The DFI team and the coordinators of the after school program that organized the tour were happy to see the enthusiasm the students displayed for the downtown district. Students were comfortable and safe walking through downtown and were excited to learn more about the history of their home.

A Fuller Middle School after school program supervisor surprised the DFI team with a "Thank You" poster signed by the students who attended the tour.