Picture yourself as an 8-year-old third-grader.
It’s midafternoon on a sunny, January school day.
What are you thinking about?
The bell to ring or the buzzer to buzz, giving you permission to leave, burst through the door and head for home?
Then picture yourself as an 8-year-old third-grader who knows he or she is not leaving at the appointed hour.
Instead, you are staying after school.
Are you happy?
Well, if you are a third-grader at Downeast School in Bangor, the answer is a definite “Yes!”
That’s because you are one of the lucky 20 pupils participating in an after-school club (yet to be named), which has been known previously as Circle of Friends or the T-1 Club.
Last spring, teachers Linda Dunn and Deb Glazier initiated Circle of Friends, which Deb explained is an after-school offering that is part of the Bangor School Systems’ Community School program available in four qualifying Title 1 city schools.
Title 1 is a federally funded program that helps ensure all children have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education and reach their fullest potential.
My original intent when I visited Downeast School on Jan. 4 was to check out the new books that Deb Glazier received through the U.S. Cellular DonorsChoose.org Calling All Teachers’ Campaign in which teachers apply for grants to obtain items they would like for their classroom.
And that I did.
The first round of the 50 poetry books Deb was able to purchase through that grant had been given out during a special gathering for the 18 third-graders who were honored for faithful attendance during the spring session of this program.
Downeast Principal Richard Fournier distributed the books as proud parents and current and former teachers watched, I was told.
There are more books to come, after the current after-school session, for those with faithful attendance.
The day I was there, to tell you the truth, I couldn’t tear myself away until it was over, so I’m pretty sure most of those youngsters I visited with will be receiving new poetry books as well.
The kids were having such a great time and were so busy, I could hardly keep up with them.
They were practicing their lines for readers theater; they were catching up on homework with an adult’s help; they were playing math games with flashcards; they were navigating the computer amazingly well, and the only sounds I heard were happy ones.
No whining; no groaning; no complaining. Just eager faces looking up at you, proud to show you what they were learning after school.
It’s safe to say that Linda and Deb, along with staff members Cynthia Leonard, Kim Dean, Marion Aube and Shanna Merrill, are having as much fun as the kids they are working with Monday through Thursday afternoons.
The hourlong program includes a snack, art, physical wellness activities, readers theater, computer work for FASTTMATH (a program to enhance fluency of math facts) reading books and poetry, math games and homework assistance.
Deb said the group soon will choose a name for the club, to which they are all proud to belong.
“They like being part of a team,” she said.
“This sense of belonging and having a place to receive homework assistance and feel successful is what it’s all about.”
And, thanks to the U. S. Cellular grant and Deb’s successful application, these third-graders also are learning to like poetry.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.