After-school program celebrates its day | NevadaAppeal.com

After-school program celebrates its day

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Arturo Soriano, 8, plays on top of a Jungle Jim during the After School Boys and Girl Club at Empire Elementry School. Thursday workers with the Boys and Girls Club recognized the workers of the satelite club. Photo by Brian Corley
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Zenaida Villagrana doesn’t speak English and understands little of it. She wants to help her 8-year-old son Jim Valencia with his third-grade homework, but it’s difficult.

“I try to help him, but sometimes I can’t,” she said.

That’s why she’s grateful for the Boys & Girls Club satellite program at Empire Elementary School.

“I like it because they help him with his homework,” Villagrana said.

Villagrana joined other parents, students, staff and various officials Thursday afternoon in celebrating Lights on Afterschool, a national movement to raise awareness of after-school programs .

The program is in its second year and has 285 members with about 125 students attending daily.

When school lets out, students go to the gymnasium and start on their homework. Then they progress to other activities and free time.

“It’s fun when I get to play games with my friends,” said Gerardo Rodriguez, 8. “We have to do homework, too. Sometimes it’s fun.”

A special presentation was held to honor the Lights on Afterschool campaign.

Former Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, who is now president of the Boys & Girls Club governing board, and Jon Plank, Carson City supervisor, were among those who spoke Thursday.

“It’s very exciting because you get to meet new people,” said club member Cole Chandler, 10. “You get to think about exactly what they’re talking about like the environment of the club and keeping it together.”

The program is in the second year of a three-year grant.

Empire school principal Pat Carpenter is hoping to keep it going.

“Many of our students, if they weren’t here, would be home unsupervised or out on the streets,” she said. “This gives them a place to go and a place to be enriched.”

Program director Maria Wilson said in addition to giving the students a safe place to go, she also wants to help the mostly Hispanic students get extra help with school.

She is looking for volunteers to read with the students between 3 and 4 p.m.

YOU CAN HELP

To volunteer to read with Empire Elementary School children during the after-school program, call Maria Wilson at 283-1157.