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Schools rally to support afterschool programs

COVINGTON — Hundreds of children, parents, and business and community leaders will come together at 5 p.m. Thursday for Lights On Afterschool at Newton High School to celebrate the achievements of afterschool students and draw attention to the need for more afterschool programs.

The gathering will be one of more than 9,000 such events across the nation emphasizing the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs. The event’s purpose is to celebrate the many benefits of afterschool programs, and encourage lawmakers to support afterschool funding. Gov. Nathan Deal signed a proclamation in support of afterschool programs in the state of Georgia.

“Lights On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work being done by students who attend our afterschool programs in Newton County schools,” said Deena Sams, Newton County Schools district coordinator. “It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs keep children safe, inspire them to learn and relieve working parents of worries about how their children spend their afternoons. We are very proud of our afterschool students. There’s no reason that learning should stop at 3 p.m., particularly if the alternative is unsupervised time in front of a television set, or any of the dangerous or unhealthy behaviors that can ensnare children in the afternoons.”

Like many other afterschool programs around the nation, Newton County School System’s is also supported by funding from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. Since its creation, it has provided funding to extend the program to middle and high schools students.

“All who care about afterschool need to make a request to legislators for full funding so that we can continue to serve students in the community,” said Sams.

Newton County Schools’ After School Academic Program now serves more than 1,300 children, providing academic instruction, homework assistance, science, mentoring, tutoring, test prep, credit recovery, sports clubs, recreation and fitness, dance, piano and dozens of other subjects.

For more information, contact Sams at sams.deena@newton.k12.ga.us.