“In a world where you can be anything…be Kind,” was the theme for the recent Lights on After School celebration held at the Wayne County Middle School.
Lights on After School was celebrated all the way from California, to Washington to New York City. The Empire State Building was even lit up endorsing the Lights on After School Programs on October 24 for the 20th anniversary.
Wayne County’s 21st Century Program Coordinator Katherine Kidd welcomed the audience of students and parents that gathered to kick off the local event. She was proud to report that the program provides a safe place for children after school, provides afternoon snacks, helps students explore their talents, lends academic support, improves social skills and creates a sense of belonging. This is the fifth year of the present federal grant cycle.
“These students are a part of my family until they leave after eighth grade,” smiled Kidd. “In fact, some of them have been part of my family since they were in third grade.”
Approximately 257 students regularly attend the after school program, meaning they have come more than 30 times, according to school records. Students choose from a variety of classroom options in the afternoons including everything from cooking to Minecraft to choir to homework help – just to name a few. During the summer, a camp style program lasting four to six weeks, which includes terrific field trips, serves approximately 45 students. Students have traveled to an impressive number of destinations that coordinate with unique learning experiences in the classroom.
The “Choose Kind” message that resonated from the movie Wonder was very appropriate for the after school program that is geared toward working together in a spirit of cooperation. The event highlights the efforts of after school programs across the country with the local celebration focusing on the successful 21st Century Program that served 600 students (about 46 percent of the total school population from Monticello Elementary and Wayne County Middle School) during 2018.
“We’ve been serving students for ten years,” said 21st Century Program Coordinator Katherine Kidd. With the help of a terrific staff, Kidd has designed a wonderful program that is fun and interesting to students, while improving 98 percent of the participants academically. The results of the program speaks for itself with statistics like: 97 percent of the students improving their homework completion rate, 84 percent improved class participation, 27 percent of students attending increased their reading/language arts grades from fall to spring, and 31 percent of students attending increased their math grades from fall to spring.
Mayor Tracie Sexton came to the opening to sign a proclamation to honor the occasion in support of after school education. Several 21st Century middle school students also spoke to the audience endorsing their positive experiences in the program.
The Waynetonian Choir provided special entertainment at the event with songs from the entire choir, as well as the senior choir, plus a solo performance that was appreciated. Assistant Choir Director Katina Shearer noted the significance of the Lights on After School event, commending the local program for all the terrific opportunities it affords young people.
A Wonder Food Celebration followed the assembly with “Everything Nice and Sweet” on the buffet that teachers served to families. The last hour of the event had special activities for students where parents could learn more about the resources open to their children. The public library joined the offerings with a craft project and free books available. The Healthy Kids Clinic shared health information and the Youth Service Center had a resource table set up.
21st Century Coordinator Katherine Kidd talks about her program
Kidd reads proclamation that Mayor Tracie Sexton will sign
Mayor Tracie Sexton signs the proclamation recognizing Lights on After School and the valuable 21st Century After School Program.
21st Century student Andrew Harrington talked about the benefits of the 21st Century Program
21st Century student Madison Hughes shared her thoughts on the After School Program
Anita Peters leads the Waynetonian Choir
Choir members did a great job singing
Choir member Rileigh Strunk performed a solo
Senior Choir members performed
Teachers served students and their families at the event
Each dish was labeled as the students went through the serving line
(above and below) 21st Century students appreciated the teachers' efforts
Public Librarian Anne Garner and her Assistant Librarian Marlene Bass supported the evening with a craft project and book give-away for students
Retired Wayne County Board of Ed employee Lois Dolen and her granddaughter Sophia Beaudoin were among the many who attended the event