Exeter sheds 'light' on afterschool programs

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
As part of the festivities, Exeter Elementary School students Trinity Atkinson, fourth grade, left, and Hallie Woods, fourth grade, and their classmates, enjoyed a healthy snack at a school event Oct. 13 to observe Lights On After School Day, a day officially set aside by Governor Jay Nixon to recognize the importance and need of afterschool programs for students and working families. Contributed photo

State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, visited Exeter Elementary School recently to read an official proclamation from Gov. Jay Nixon's office during the school's observance of national Lights On After School Day to bring awareness of the benefit of afterschool programs to young people, families and communities.

The day was celebrated in conjunction of the school's Math Night event. Nixon proclaimed the day to encourage all communities in the state to engage in innovative afterschool programs and activities that ensure the lights stay on and the doors, open, for all children after school.

The proclamation highlighted several facts about afterschool programs:

House Representative Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, visited Exeter Elementary to read an official proclamation from Governor Jay Nixon's office during the school's observance of national Lights On After School Day. The purpose of the event is to shed "light" on the benefits afterschool programs provide to young people, families and communities. The actual day is observed Oct. 20 but was celebrated Oct. 13 in conjunction with the school's Math Night event. Contributed photo

* Afterschool programs support working families by ensuring their children are safe and productive after the regular school day ends, and builds stronger communities by involving our students, parents business leaders and adult volunteers in the lives of our young people, thereby promoting positive relationships among children, youth, families and adults; and

* The state of Missouri has provided significant leadership in the area of community involvement in the education and well-being of our youth, grounded in the principal that quality afterschool programs are key to helping children become successful adults; and

* Lights on After School, a national celebration of afterschool programs promotes the critical importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families and their communities; and

* 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; and

* The State of Missouri is committed to investing in the health and safety of all young people by providing expanded learning opportunities that will help close the achievement gap and prepare young people to compete in the global economy.

The school district held a volleyball game the same night, which students got in for free after the festivities.

The Exeter school district has won several awards and state recognition for its quality afterschool program, made possible by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, which staff secured to provide innovative and expanded learning opportunities for young people after school that are above and beyond what they would learn in the classroom in a safe environment while their parents work.

As part of the evening, children enjoyed a variety of fun, educational activities to celebrate the event.

"On our activity night, students enjoyed healthy snacks, made promotional posters and glow-in-the-dark frisbees to put the 'lights on' our afterschool program and programs like ours that help kids across the nation," said Mandy Mattingly, director of Exeter's afterschool program.

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