Students, parents, business and community leaders came together on Oct. 27 for a Lights On Afterschool Open House and Resource Fair at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School and Greenbrier East High School. The goal of the event was to celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs to serve the millions of children nationwide who are unsupervised and at risk each weekday afternoon. The gathering was one of more than 8,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs.
The Lights On Afterschool event at the neighboring schools featured open houses at both afterschool programs. Student tour guides were on hand to escortvisitors through the schools to experience “a day in the life of an afterschool student.” Greenbrier East also had delicious refreshments prepared by the Pro Start culinary program along with a resource fair focused on family and student needs. Vendors at the resource fair included Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Rainelle Medical Center, Rainelle Medical Center’s School-Based Health, WVU Extension Services& 4-H, The Tutoring Center Foundation, The HUB youth center of High Rocks Educational Corp., Coventry Cares of WV, Seneca Health Services and Maximus, Inc. The evening was made even more exciting by a special prize drawing, with two students winning Kindle Fire tablets. This year marks the 16th annual Lights On Afterschool, sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance. More than a million Americans took part in the nationwide rally to support afterschool programs.As at other Lights On Afterschool rallies across the nation, Greenbrier County afterschool supporters urged policy makers not to deny or divert funding needed for afterschool programs.
“We are all extremely proud of our afterschool students and the incredible work they’re doing,” said Kasey Carter, Director of Communities In Schools of Greenbrier County. “Afterschool programs do an outstanding job of keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families. The afterschool programs at EGMS and GEHS are made possible through a pair of Innovation Zone drop-out prevention grants through the WV Department of Education, but we also rely on our parents, and on the generosity of our community partners. We would like to especially thank the local and state leaders who came out to support these very important programs.” Carter serves as an Afterschool Ambassador for West Virginia for the Afterschool Alliance.
The afterschool programs highlighted at the event both provide participating students with a nutritious dinner, time for academics – tutoring, mentoring, credit recovery or homework help, and an enrichment activity – everything from knitting to working with plants in a greenhouse to guitar-building. Each program also has an entrepreneurial component. Teachers work with students to develop a business and marketing plan for the products and services created during the enrichment activity, giving the students real life experiences with web design, product development, customer service and more.
The 2014 “America After 3 p.m.” household survey of more than 30,000 families, commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, found that participation in afterschool programs has increased to 10.2 million students nationwide, but for every child in an afterschool program, there are two more whose parents say they would participate, if a program were available. One in five students in the United States today is unsupervised after the school day ends.
For the ninth consecutive year, the Empire State Building was lit up in yellow to celebrate Lights on Afterschool on Oct. 22. Among the national organizations supporting Lights On this year: America’s Promise, Bright House Networks, Campfire, LEGO Education, New York Life, Torani, the National League of Cities, the National Recreation & Park Association, STEMfinity, the Association of Science – Technology Centers, the National Association of Police Athletic League, and many others.
More information on the Afterschool Alliance and Lights On Afterschool is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org.
For more information on Communities In Schools of Greenbrier County and their mission to “surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life,” please visit www.cisgreenbriercounty.org or call 304-661-1018.