A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Crossroads Elementary joins with schools around the country for celebration of Lights on Afterschool

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

This week families across the country are participating in a multitude of celebrations highlighting what afterschool programs have meant to them.

Locally, families from Crossroads Elementary School in Cold Spring have been participating in the 21st Lights On Afterschool Program. Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families, and communities.

A project of Afterschool Alliance, which works to help children have access to affordable, quality, after-school programs, Lights On Afterschool events are as broad as the imagination goes. The themes, leadership, entrepreneurship, STEM, art, and social-emotional learning (SEL) are expressed through any means. Carnivals, open houses, a battle of the bands, and lighting the sky with luminaries are the tip-of-the-iceberg ideas.

The week-long program began October 19 and runs through October 23. Annie Schafer, Site Coordinator 21st Century Community Learning Center (Club 21) at Crossroads Elementary School, has organized the event at Crossroads Elementary.

Because of COVID, the normal, large in-person, family events and activities could not happen this year, but Schafer did not let this put a stop to the fun. She planned an entire week of activities.

Crossroads students and families held a scavenger hunt. Families were given clues that led them to a business, restaurant, or store throughout the Crossroads school district community. Once the clue was solved, the family went to that business. The stores hung the Lights On Afterschool Lightbulb Flyer in their window and families got the next clue. The scavenger hunt took them to 10 destinations.

Families handed in their completed materials to Schafer on Monday. Schafer said stores in the county donated gift cards for the event. The families who completed the challenge will have their names put in a drawing for a prize.

The Lights On Afterschool Program began at Crossroads four years ago when Schafer began there.

“I started it the first year I was here because it sounded neat. We’re always trying to make people aware of our afterschool programs,” Schafer says.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) helped this year by printing large flyers of the programs’ logo for this year, a lightbulb. The kids will color, decorate, and place it in the yard. Families are asked to take pictures of the kids with the yard sign and send them to Schafer. NKU will take all the photos and make a movie for participants.

Crossroads week finishes today with a nationwide Youth Town Hall. This showpiece will feature four youth leaders from afterschool programs. Shaped in a panel and Q&A format, the youth will talk about their experiences in the afterschool programs and what makes youth flourish.

Nationally, Lights On Afterschool began the week with an online engineering program. Led by a Facebook Engineer, the program took students through a coding activity.

Tuesday brought social-emotional learning, tips, and techniques. Wednesday, a young entrepreneur’s panel talked about mindset, process, and business. Also, participants could check in with Young Rembrandts for a family session of fun drawing.

Today is the culmination of the week’s activities, with the entire family able to attend and participate in the Youth Town Hall. Friday boasts a live chat with astronaut Jasmine Moghbeli. The week concludes with Mindfulness, a session for thoughts, and reflecting on all that was learned during the week and expressing gratitude. All sessions are timed to be after school.

Schafer is proud of Crossroads afterschool program which has been running since 2006.

Afterschool programs are important in promoting learning and growth for students. The Afterschool Alliance reports students who regularly participated showed improved attendance, engage more in classes, improve behavior, and increase math and reading scores.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) is paid through a grant from Every Child Succeeds. It is the only federally funded program to support local afterschool and summer learning programs. This grant allows over 18,000 children in Kentucky to attend the 21CCLC afterschool program for free.

While Kentucky has 104,693 students enrolled in some type of afterschool program, there are 265,184 students on a waiting list. That means 7 out of every 10 applications cannot be funded. This brings to light a significant unmet need.

At Crossroads, Schafer operates Club 21 from 3:20 – 6:30, daily while school is in session. Students get homework help and teachers create lesson plans for them to work on. There is a time for learning, fun, exercise, and a snack.

Crossroads Elementary School participates in Lights On Afterschool to make the community aware of their program. The yearly event always brings families together in celebration. Afterschool programs like Club21 are a spark for many who need that extra help with school, a place for imagination or creativity to soar, or a safe place to stay until parents are finished with their workday.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment