Archive for Wednesday, March 13, 2002

After-school classes provide enrichment for TES students

March 13, 2002

The launch was getting closer. Five four three two one one one Lift-off!

A rocket launch for students in the Afternoon Academy at Tonganoxie Elementary School required a little extra coaxing, but a small group watched the model rocket ascend from the school playground.

The rocket-launch class is just one of several programs offered through the Afternoon Academy, a six-week, after-school program provided by the Volunteer Center.

The 55-minute program offers extracurricular classes to students Mondays through Thursdays. Among this year's offerings were chess, cooking, arts and crafts and rocket launching. The academy also has included scrapbook and sign language instruction in the past.

For the rocket launch, students used mostly recycled products paper rolls, plastic bags, Dixie cups and string.

Chip Marquardt, a volunteer with the program, taught the group how to assemble their rockets.

"Professor Chip is our professor," said student Lindsay Fatherly.

The class of about 12 students, which is what most Afternoon Academy classes average, built its own rockets to launch at home. Marquardt, meanwhile, used one of his rockets for last Thursday's launch.

The projects were inexpensive, except for model rocket engines. The Lawrence Wal-Mart store, however, donated a $70 gift certificate for the purchase of the engines.

Marquardt has helped at the Volunteer Center for five years and has been working with rockets for about two years. He said he got involved with rocket building as something new to introduce to Afternoon Academy participants.

"They did these all themselves," Marquardt said. "It was kind of a treat. They liked it."

Earleta Morey, Volunteer Center director, said she'd like to expand the program, but space and the number of instructors available make that difficult.

"There are about 80 to 90 students in the Afternoon Academy," Morey said. "But there are 750 students in the grade school. We have to turn a lot of kids away."

For those involved in the program, there's a $10 fee to participate, which helps pay for instructors. Morey said some classes might require $3 to $4 extra for supplies.

The volunteer center, though, isn't just limited to Afternoon Academy. Volunteers also help throughout the school year as teachers' aides, and also help donate books once a year to students with the help of the Reading is Fundamental program. The school and the Tonganoxie Parent Teacher Association also donate books to younger students once a year. The PTA also donates books once a year to students in fourth through sixth grades.

From books to after-school programs, Morey said the Volunteer Center has been successful, but is always hoping to offer different classes.

"We're always looking for more instructors," she said.

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