Sitting in the cafeteria at Vernon Middle School, a group of about 100 students sat at the lunch tables with notebooks and worksheets, awaiting the beginning of a free program that provides homework help, robotics, cooking class and martial arts training.
“I’m excited that the (Afterschool Centers on Education) pogram is starting again,” said Isaiah Arellano, an eigth grade student at Vernon Middle School. “I like to be able to do my homework with my friends and have a bumch of new experiences.”
Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District commenced it’s Afterschool Centers on Education program earlier this week. The ACE program provides students with a safe afterschool enviorment where they can continue the learning day, offering learning assistance and diverse enrichment programs.
“We offer our students academic courses, enrichment activities, family support and college and workforce readiness actvities,” said Schawn Wreden, the ACE coordinator for HCISD. “With the variety of activities, students are able to design robots one day and learn martial arts the next.”
The mission of the ACE program is to provide students with a safe and social after school environment that allows them to continue the educational day. The Texas 21st Century Skills Grant funds the program, which is a federal government grant.
The diverse activities offer something to match the interests of every student, and it also provides them the opportunity to discover new hobbies.
“Last year we learned how to make mums for homecoming,” said Krystal Lopez, a seventh grade student at Vernon Middle School. “ I had never done that before but they are really fun to make, and they show our school spirit.
Although the activites are fun and provide enrichment, ACE programs always allocate designated time for homework in order to further help students to succeed in the classroom, Wreden said.
“Before any of the activitites take place, students are provided with homework assitance, and tutors are always available for any questions the students may have,” Wreden said.
The first family event for the ACE program will be in celebration of the iniative Lights on After School, which is a day that highlights afterschool programs around the nation. The celebration will provide refreshments and games for both parents and students, and will be held at the TSTC Cultural Center on Oct 22.
“We encourage all of our students and parents to come out for some family fun and be apart of all the great things the ACE program has to offer,” Wreden said.
The ACE program is available at every secondary school in HCISD and Bowie and Rodriguez elementary schools. The program is free for all students and they are encouraged to sign up any time during the school year. Applications can be found at the campus’ administration office.