Washington St. center offers fall programs

COVINGTON - Following a summer packed with events for local students, Washington Street Community Center is gearing up for registration for its fall programs.

In addition to the popular After School Tutorial/CRCT Program, the center will offer a variety of other fun and educational opportunities for kids this fall, including music and dance classes, a youth leadership development course and Boy and Girl Scouts.

Due to the increasing demand by parents for the center's programs, this year's slate of activities has been divided into two sessions, with fall session running Sept. 15 through Dec. 19.

For a one-time fee of $50, students can participate in any of the programs offered during the session. Registration begins at 11 a.m. Monday. Because there is limited space available, slots are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Parents or guardians must register children in person at the center, located at 4138 School St.

Only about 35 slots are available for the after-school tutorial program, due to a lack of volunteers, said Carolyn Hightower, financial consultant for Washington Street.

"We have the capacity, but not enough volunteers to assist," she said.

The program is offered to fourth- through ninth-graders Mondays and Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and kindergartners through third-graders on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Last year's lengthy waiting list prompted organizers to divide the school year into two sessions in hopes of reaching more children, said Hightower.

The tutorial program has grown by leaps and bounds since it was started in the early '90s by retired educator Louise Adams, and now, new programs are taking off just as quickly.

The Youth Leadership Development group teaches students useful life skills such as etiquette, personal presentation and budgeting, and gets them involved with volunteer work. Last year's session culminated with a June trip to New York City for 12 kids, ages 15 to 18, who took in a Broadway show, were treated to an art class at The Drawing Center and toured Central Park, Times Square, Ellis Island and Soho.

They also visited Jonathan Rose Companies LLC, a company that develops affordable housing with a focus on preserving greenspace, and heard staffers there talk about how a college education is beneficial to them in their jobs.

Hightower said the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kids, many of whom had never before flown on an airplane.

Another program offered by the center is Fun and Fitness Fridays, which provides scholarships to allow disadvantaged youth to participate in football, cheerleading, basketball and softball, in partnership with the Newton County Recreation Commission.

The center also pairs older students with summertime employers, such as the city of Covington, the Covington-Newton County 911 Center and the Recreation Commission.

A CRCT study hall prepares students for the annually administered standardized test, while a computer lab allows them to work on daily homework assignments.

Director Bea Jackson deserves credit for implementing many of these programs, said Flemmie Pitts, treasurer of the center's board of directors.

"This is really what our dream was, to be able to assist kids in the community," Pitts said. "This center was really needed. Kids around here needed it. When they get off the bus, and they look up and see home and the center, most of them run to the center first before they go home."

Anyone needing more information on programs or interested in volunteering should call the center at 770-786-4002.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Washington Street Community Center 2008 Fall/Winter Programs

Registration begins Monday at the center, located at 4138 School Street in Covington. The registration fee is $50. There is limited space available and slots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, including dates and times for programs, contact the center at 770-786-4002.

· After School Tutorial/CRCT Program

· Youth Leadership Development

· Boy and Girl Scouts

· African Dance Workshop

· Grandparents/Kinship Care

· Fun and Fitness Fridays

· Dance Class - Bella Ballerina Sessions

· Band and Instrumental Music

· Autism Support Group