When the final school bell rings on Thursday, Oct. 24, the fun will just be getting started.
Around the country, schools, libraries, community centers and other organizations will celebrate Lights On Afterschool.
Launched in 2000 by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving all kids access to quality, affordable after-school, before-school, weekend and summer programs. Nationwide, 11.3 million kids are left unsupervised when class is dismissed. Giving them activities — from planting a community garden to raising money for charity — can help mold them into successful adults.
During the project’s inaugural year, 1,200 communities participated. Today, led by longtime chairman Arnold Schwarzenegger, more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool rallies are held annually.
I’ll be back, indeed.
This year, there are more than 65 events planned throughout Allegheny County. Locally, the program is promoted by Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST), a partnership of funders, intermediaries and providers building an exemplary Out-of-School Time (OST) system.
You can find a list of participating locations here. A few highlights include:
Youth Empowerment Project of Sharpsburg
The Youth Empowerment Project of Sharpsburg is growing, running weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. to serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
On Oct. 24, students can create holiday cards to send to area seniors. They can tell the community about the program by writing letters. These letters will be on display at the organization’s Open House on Nov. 2. Kids who attend the November event can participate in science projects, screen printing demonstrations and a raffle. They’ll learn about program offerings, too, including a new scholarship that covers the gap between financial aid and out-of-pocket college expenses.
South Hills Interfaith Movement
South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) is a longtime supporter of Lights On Afterschool. This year’s event will take place at Whitehall United Presbyterian Church from 5 to 6 p.m. Guests will paint pumpkins, play games and have snacks. Special visitors include representatives from WQED (they’re bringing Clifford the Big, Red Dog with them!), Fund My Future and Venture Outdoors.
The Environmental Charter School
E-Day, the Environmental Charter School’s (ECS) tuition-based after school program, is celebrating Lights On at its Intermediate school through garden and art activities. The halls of the primary school will come to life with the sounds of a drumming circle. Students will learn how to drum out a rhythm in sync with their classmates.
As the school day ends and E-Day begins, students in kindergarten through the fifth-grade transition by snacking and socializing. From there, they participate in daily activities, including outdoor free time, nature hikes, games, crafts, cooking, reading and tech time. A daily homework session allows kids to get a jump on their assignments. The students also enjoy enrichment programming from community organizations, such as the Sierra Club, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Carnegie Library.
Lights On at Assemble in East Liberty means the facility is open to all ages from 4 to 6 p.m. with engaging STEAM activities. Community members will create their own LED pendants, crowns and pins to help shine the light on the importance of afterschool programs.
EdCorps, a Real World Scholars platform, helps kids across the country launch e-commerce businesses from their classrooms. APOST selected two of the EdCorps’ 38 Pittsburgh-area programs for this year’s Lights On Afterschool celebration.
Art teacher Adam Gebhardt and science teacher Stephen Lauso head TJ3D, an extracurricular club that fourth- and fifth-graders can join to create 3D printed goods. During the Lights On event, they’ll celebrate the grand opening of their online shop and have products available for on-site purchase.
Over at Whitehall Elementary School in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, teacher Kristy Frohliger and her fifth-grade students will host Breakfast with the Business. Guests will enjoy donuts and coffee while the fifth-graders talk about their business, BW Creations, which makes phone grips.