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School program expands to Bayard
December 24, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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If you think the 4-H program is about livestock and home arts, you’d be half right. The program also offers a safe afterschool environment for young kids while they wait for their parents to return from work.

Kelley Rice, 4-H District Coordinator for the Panhandle, outlined to county commissioners their Pathfinders Afterschool Program for kids in grades K-6 through the UNL Extension Service. It started at Roosevelt Elementary School in Scottsbluff, funded through a 4-H mentoring grant from the Department of Justice. Now, it’s expanded into Bayard Public Schools.

“I was contacted by Bayard School Superintendent Travis Miller about opportunities to help their students reach their academic goals,” Rice said. “He asked if we could develop a partnership for an afterschool program.”

They agreed the Bayard program, which runs weekdays from 3:30 – 6 p.m., should be a safe place where kids could receive a nutritious snack and have time to work on their homework and receive tutoring in difficult areas.

“A lot of students go home after school to an empty house,” she said. “They don’t get their homework done and after their parents get home for dinner, time just gets away from them. With our program, when the parents pick them up, it’s quality time at home.”

Rice said their original goal was to reach about 75 elementary students in the Bayard schools the first year, but that’s already grown to about 120. That’s about a 50 percent reach.

“I grew up in Bayard so I see this as a very positive program,” she said. We’ve also made contacts with the Chimney Rock Villa Nursing Center.

The kids visit to decorate pumpkins with resident, play games or just read to each other.”

She said many students don’t live near their grandparents, so having a multi-generational relationship is vital. It’s also important for Villa residents to see a purpose in their lives.

“Sometimes our older residents don’t see a purpose in their lives,” Rice said. “They honestly do have a purpose in their lives and they can touch our children’s lives in a unique way.”

The program has been such a success in Bayard, Rice said they’re considering a program for Bridgeport. “This could turn into a much larger program which would be a great problem to have,” she said.
“Parents have told me they appreciate their children are safe and have help with homework the parents might not be able to provide. It’s a win-win situation.”
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