Keeping the lights on after school

Students, along with parents and siblings, work on building a miniature catapult

After school programs allow children to have a safe place until they can go home. On Thursday, October 26, Escambia County Middle School, along with thousands of schools nationwide observed Lights On Afterschool, the national celebration of afterschool programs.

The event was also a chance for the school to showcase the A-STEM curriculum as students worked on various projects.

“This is our first time doing this,” said Marcia Adams, ECMS STEM site director. “We got an A-STEM (Arts, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) grant from After School Alliance to fund the program. More than a million students across America and in Japan are now participating in after-school programs.”

Melissa Daniel is the lead STEM teacher. “We have almost 60 kids who have already applied for the program,” she said. “It gives these students hands-on enrichment they can’t get in the classroom, in a safe, healthy environment so they’re not at home as latchkey kids.”

Mayor Jim Staff was on hand Thursday to observe and read a proclamation, a portion of which follows:

WHEREAS, the citizens of Atmore, Alabama, stand firmly committed to quality afterschool programs and opportunities because they:

* Provide safe, challenging, and engaging learning experiences that help children develop social, emotional, physical and academic skills.

* Support working families by ensuring their children are safe and productive after the regular school day ends.

* Build stronger communities by involving students, parents, business leaders and adult volunteers in the lives of young people, thereby promoting positive relationships among youth, families and adults.

* Engage families, schools and community partners in advancing the welfare of our children.

WHEREAS, the STEM Program has provided significant leadership in the area of community involvement in the education and well-being of our youth, grounded in the principle that quality afterschool programs are key to helping our children become successful adults.

WHEREAS, Lights On Afterschool, the national celebration of afterschool programs held this year on Thursday, October 26, 2017, promotes the importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, families and communities.

WHEREAS, more than 28 million children in the U.S. have parents who work outside the home, and 15.1 million children have no place to go after school and many afterschool programs across the country are facing funding shortfalls so severe that they are being forced to close their doors and turn off their lights.

NOW, THEREFORE, I Jim Staff, Mayor of the City of Atmore, County of Escambia, State of Alabama, by virtue of the authority vested in me under the Municipal laws of the State of Alabama, do hereby proclaim Thursday, October 26, 2017, as “Lights On Afterschool Day”; AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that I enthusiastically endorse Lights On Afterschool and commit the City of Atmore to engage in innovative afterschool programs and activities that ensure the lights stay on and the doors stay open for all children after school.

Students play violins and cellos, from left, violin instructor Ben Reece, Trinity Thames, Elizabeth Mitchell, Tenya Brown, Sasha Kidd, Myasia Cooks, Gabrielle McMurray, Natalleigh Martinez.