Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lights on Afterschool Celebrations Planned in Fayette County

Peachtree City Elementary Afterschool Program student Leah Celestine puts paper mache on her light bulb while fellow classmates Uzoma Offor and Christina Peterson work on theirs. The light bulbs, featuring comments from parents, will be presented to the Fayette County Board of Education on October 19.

Over 1,300 Afterschool Program (ASP) students in the Fayette County Public School System will be part of the one million nationwide celebrating “Lights on Afterschool” on October 22.

The Afterschool Alliance’s 10th annual Lights on Afterschool is a national event that calls attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open. Fayette’s program has already received proclamations of support from Governor Sonny Perdue and the city councils of Peachtree City, Brooks and Fayetteville, and will receive one from the Fayette County Board of Education during its regular monthly meeting on October 19.

Victor Camo, a fifth grade ASP student at Kedron Elementary, spoke before the Peachtree City Council about the importance of ASP in schools and what the program has meant to him.
“When I think about ASP, I think about fun. My friends and I have a great time because we get to exercise and use our imaginations. We learn different kinds of art, we get to meet students from other grades and spend more time with our friends from other classes. We are also able to finish our homework. I get to play board games that make me think strategically. The staff is trustworthy, kind and helpful. When we need help we can ask a staff member. These are the reasons why I love and enjoy ASP,” Victor said.

Some celebrations that will be going on at schools around the county include a poster parade at Braelinn Elementary featuring posters made by students publicizing the need for afterschool programs, a paper quilt display at Crabapple Lane Elementary made up of squares depicting what students enjoy about their afterschool program, and colorful paper, halogen light bulbs created by students at Peachtree City Elementary with comments from parents about what the school’s program means to them. The students plan to present the light bulbs to the Fayette County Board of Education at the October meeting.

Fayette’s ASP has been in operation since 1987 under the auspice of the superintendent of the Fayette County Board of Education, and the guidance of various national organizations such as the National Afterschool Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Georgia School-Age Care Alliance. The program has grown from 250 students serving nine elementary schools at its inception to over 1,300 students today and 17 elementary schools.

ASP is not only a great alternative to daycare, but it also gives parents peace of mind. It is a safer option than entering a home alone and has been shown to reduce opportunities for latchkey kids to engage in criminal, delinquent or inappropriate behaviors or become victimized by predators. It has also been shown to improve achievement and promote a better attitude toward school.

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