Friday, August 13, 2004
Extended Day looks to add middle school program
Where do middle school students go to socialize after school? With few other options, kids often land at the Gleason Public Library, a fine place for quiet homework, but not so great if your intent is to chit chat. Kids milling around unsupervised "also raises issues such as who's responsible," says librarian Angela Reddin. "There seems to be a need for some place kids can hang out."
Enter Carlisle Extended Day, which is currently investigating whether to provide an after-school gathering place for middle school students. Says board member Nancy Teasdale, "We see an opportunity to increase our service level to older children in upper elementary and middle school. Right now there's no place to go in town."
In late spring, Extended Day members began networking with other youth-involved entities to explore the feasibility of a program for the middle school group. Included were the Carlisle School, Recreation Commission, Youth Commission, Police Department, and Gleason Library. "We're not the experts," says Teasdale. "There are a lot of people out there with a lot of ideas." She found a great deal of interest, "Everyone was ready to jump on the bandwagon."
But as momentum gathered, a number of questions arose. What size program would be needed? Where and when should it be held? How structured should it be? How much supervision would be appropriate? "We envisioned a centrally-located place for unstructured activities with minimal supervision," says Teasdale. But would parents support it and kids sign up?
To find out, two surveys were issued, one to middle school parents, the other to students. The surveys explored interest in various activities, including recreational sports, games, movies, a book group, hiking, trips, theater, and homework. In addition, they asked parents what level of self-supervision should be allowed. Though parents may prefer more control, the group felt kids would be more likely to attend if there were less surveillance.
The survey results are in and "there was a great response," says Teasdale. Though not yet tabulated, preliminary indications are "the activity is less important than just having a place to hang out."
Teasdale characterizes the initiative as "in the infancy stage" with many issues to be resolved. For example, would rotating the program between various locations work? Should a permanent space be found, possibly a trailer on the Extended Day property on East Street? Regardless of the outcome, "It's great to come together as a community and brainstorm some solutions," says Reddin. "At least we've begun a dialogue."
© 2004 The