Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New after-school program focuses on grades, having fun

November 21, 2007

The usual after-school routine for seventh-grader Erika Torres, 13, is to go home and turn on the television immediately, with homework being the furthest thing from her mind.

But that's changed now that she's joined a new after-school program where she said she plans to get her homework done earlier.

Erika is one of many Lansing Middle School students who have joined the city's newest after-school program, the Lansing Village.

The free program, which caters to sixth- through eighth-grade students, opened its doors this month at the Lansing Activity Center, 108 S. 2nd St. Students will attend the Village from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. There they can snack, do homework, play games and work on community service projects.

Deborah Gregor, site facilitator of Lansing Village, said she wanted to start the program because she hopes it will fill a need in the community. Gregor said when applying for the grant from the Leavenworth Youth Achievement Center, she envisioned providing students a place to come together and support one another.

"Socializing is a big part of this age group, so I wanted that to be a big part of this program," she said.

Students will have access to the gym, library and computer lab, but Gregor said it was up to them what they did with their time. While she sets some guidelines about finishing homework and following certain rules, the particular schedule of events will be open for the students to decide.

As the prevention services coordinator for the 1st Judicial District Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Project, Gregor is no stranger to working with youngsters. While the students who attend the Village aren't necessarily part of the delinquency program, Gregor knows what students that age need: a place to hang out.

The Village will give that to students, as well as provide them with the opportunity to help each other, she said. Students helping other students with homework is what Gregor said is key to success of the program.

Mikey Jinks, 11, was one of the first students to sign up for the program. The sixth-grader said he didn't want to sit around doing nothing and thought the program would give him lots of activities to do.

"I think it's cool we have this program where we can learn and have fun at the same time," Jinks said.

So far he's utilized the library and the computers. He said playing the board game Monopoly, however, has been his favorite part.

Austin Anstaett, 11, is in Jinks' team at the middle school, and the two usually hang out together after school hours. That hasn't changed now that they've both joined the program.

Anstaett said he joined the Village because he was behind on assignments in school. He said now he'll hopefully be able to catch up during the scheduled homework time and not allow himself to get behind in the future.

"I think it's awesome because you get to hang out with friends and do your homework so you don't get behind," he said.

There are still spots for students to sign up for the first 30 openings. Students or parents can pick up enrollment forms at the middle school office, Lansing Activity Center or the Leavenworth Youth Achievement Center, 314 Delaware St., Leavenworth.

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