Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Celebrate LIGHTS on AFTERSCHOOL
In response to the question, “Why do we need after-school?” many students shared, “To have fun!” or “Where would we go if our parents work?” Those answers capture just two of the essential goals of the elementary After-School programs in the district. Scott Fearrington, director of Community Schools said, "After-School has been an essential part of the CHCCS district for over 30 years and continues to provide a safe environment for elementary students to participate in structured, as well as free choice, activities." This year, 781 students are enrolled in the program at the district’s 11 elementary schools.
On Thursday, October 25, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools After-School programs joined in the 19th annual LIGHTS ON AFTERSCHOOL (LOA) recognition. More than a million Americans participated at 8,400 events. According to the Afterschool Alliance website, “Lights on Afterschool launched in October 2000 as the only nationwide event celebrating after-school programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities. The events send a powerful message that millions more kids need quality after-school programs. Recent statistics reveal that more than 11 million American children are alone and unsupervised after school.”
CHCCS After-School programs provide an opportunity for social, academic and physical growth in a safe, nurturing environment, as well as a setting for children to connect with other schoolmates beyond the students in their own classes. When asked to respond to the question “What do we like about after-school?” responses included, “I get to hang out with my friends,” “If we didn’t have after-school, I would not have any fun,” and “I like my group leader.”
Cedric Bush, coordinator of the program at Morris Grove Elementary, said they gathered in a restorative circle and had a conversation about the importance of after-school programs. “We had the students share their favorite part of the program and also design lightbulbs to add decoration as we celebrated after-school. The students were able to participate in a flag football game, and we also had several other physical activities organized (basketball, soccer, four-square, jump rope, hula-hoop, etc.) LOA (Lights on Afterschool) is especially important in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools because it gives students from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to join a safe and familiar environment that allows each student a unique chance to grow their minds and move their bodies. A great benefit of having after-school programs in each of the elementary schools across our district is that we are able to help our community thrive. Parents and guardians can trust that their children are safe and being cared for while they are away at work.”
Fearrington added, “All 11 district elementary school After-School programs commemorated this BRIGHT moment of the year, with a wide variety of fun-filled activities. Families and community members joined together to enjoy carnivals, cookouts, arts, crafts, games and so much more!”