Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County schools were lit-up with activity last week, participating in “Lights On After School” events to promote after school and out-of-school activities for students.
Lights On After School Programs are all funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. The federal start-up funds are allocated for before-school, after-school, and summer learning programs in high-poverty, low-performing school districts. The grants last for five years and the funded programs promote not only academic and classroom improvement, but also social development and community involvement.
“Lights On After School is a national rally put on by After School Alliance and the purpose of it is to draw attention to After School and to get people with resources interested in why it’s necessary and the kinds of impact that it has. I think a lot of times, people know there are after school programs or know that something is going on after school, but they don’t know specifically what is going on at a particular school site,” said Shannon Stewart, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer from the Ohio After School Network.
There are eight school districts in Scioto County (Green, Minford, Bloom-Vernon, Clay, Portsmouth, West Portsmouth, Northwest, and New Boston) that are served by the 21st CCLC grants, which are written and administered through Shawnee State University.
Stewart said the Lights On After School program is a good opportunity to promote after school programs in their community.
Green Elementary’s “Bobcat Boost” colored “Lights On After School” light bulbs during the events last week, and created a list of things they loved about Bobcat Boost, revived a flower bed as a community service project, made a dessert during cooking class, sewed Halloween-themed objects in canvas art/sewing, painted pumpkins in art, and started an adult petition to protect after-school funding. About 50 percent of Green Elementary students participate in Bobcat Boost, where they receive a snack, homework help and tutoring, and their choice of enrichment classes.
At Minford’s MARCS (Math And Reading Collaborative Support), students invited classmates to participate in the After School program with hand-made, light bulb-themed invitations. Students participated in before-and-after-school tutoring and intervention, physical education, and a variety of fun community activities. They also received a healthy After School snack.
Bloom-Vernon took their students outside to release approximately 120 red balloons, each containing a description of their After School program, called “Academic Enrichment”. One balloon from a similar activity several years ago is believed to have made it as far as Connecticut. Academic Enrichment serves about 105 kids each night in grades 1-6 and offers homework help, math, reading, and STEM (science, technology, math, and engineering) activities, and community involvement.
“After school programs are becoming very necessary in a society for kids from a low-income, low-performing school district might not be getting all of the experiences they need for a good education. They might be missing a lot of school. They might lose a lot of their gained knowledge over the summer. So after school and out-of-school programs are incredibly important and they’re very effective. Kids involved in these programs get better grades and they have better attendance,” Stewart said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.