Local schools take part in national afterschool program


As part of a nationwide celebration of afterschool programs, Lavalette Elementary in Wayne County took part in Lights on Afterschool, “Get up and Go” last week.

  At nearly 9,000 schools around the country students from elementary to high school took part in the annual Lights on Afterschool program last week. Over 150 kids attended the event here at Lavalette Elementary. The students had dinner, listened to instruction and participated in STEAM related activities.

The afterschool program was sponsored by Playmates Preschools and Child Development Centers, the Wayne County Board of Education and the Afterschool Alliance. Amy Wagoner is with the Playmates Preschools and Child Development Centers and the 21st Century Wayne County Community Learning Centers program.

“Afterschool programs all over the United States are celebrating today and it’s to help raise awareness and promote afterschool programs locally within your communities and its helped raise awareness with the parents, children and community members about the importance of having safe afterschool programs to go to in your communities,” Wagoner said.

Wagoner said afterschool programs play a vital role for young students.

“The afterschool time is the high-risk time between 2 and 6, so it’s important for them to have a safe place to go afterschool and be able to have dinner or a snack and have enrichment activities, tutoring services or just a safe place to be while their parents or family members are working,” Wagoner said.

At 30 sites in Wayne County and three in Cabell County the students are taught by certified teachers who work after hours in the afterschool program. The goals of the program they say are to help raise the academic level, cut down on dropouts and to increase school attendance.

The focus during the annual Lights on Afterschool celebration, was STEAM, or Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Through activity stations that had students creating robots out of Leggos, looking at rocks from prehistoric times and creating their own plastic, students touched on each of the STEAM areas. Jessica Williamson and her daughter, 4th grader Jessalyn Perry took part in the program.

“It gives them something to do, it also helps them learn, they had different activities and different learning programs for them, so to me that’s very important as a parent to make sure that my child has something educational to do rather than being out on the street and getting into trouble,” Williamson said.

Williamson said the program teach the students in a unique and interesting way.

“It’s really neat to see how the different kids react to it, to see which ones actually enter into the different activities, because some of them will draw to the Leggo’s and some of them will draw to making homemade slime, it’s kind of neat to see which kids draw to which activity,” Williamson said.

Perry said all the activities were fun to her.

“I like to take part in the Leggo’s and the slime and the airplanes,” Perry said.

Jeanette Barker is the executive director of Playmates Preschools and Child Development Centers Inc. She said the fun atmosphere is beneficial to both the students and teachers.

“The teachers I think find it refreshing because they don’t have as many restraints and they’re not on such a tight schedule, so they’re able to do things that they might not typically be able to do during the regular day, so it motivates teachers to want to be part of the expanded learning time,” Barker said.

The Lights on Afterschool Program is in its 14th year.