|Public support keeps Night Owls going|
LAWRENCEVILLE - For more than a quarter-century, the Night Owls program has provided an after-school learning activity for local elementary school students.
Thanks mostly to donations, that will continue each Tuesday and Thursday, when classes resume at Parkside Elementary School, whenever that might be.
During each session, the 60 selected students in grades one through five gather for an after-school snack in the cafeteria at 3 p.m. Then, at 3:30, the students split into groups for an hour of instruction in one of the classrooms.
"We'd love to be able to expand things," said Rose West, an overseer of the program. "We have a huge list of kids who are struggling, and could use the extra help."
One of the biggest local supporters has been the Lawrenceville Elks. A planned pulled pork dinner to raise funding on March 14 was scrapped due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, many more events will take place in the future.
"These kids are our future, and we've got to get behind them," said Elks spokesman Ben Rue. "When we have the dinners, 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward the program. We don't want it to go away."
West says volunteer help is essential to the success of the program. There is one teacher assigned to each room, and often times there is an adult volunteer, along with a high school student. Optimally, she said, the very needy students are able to receive one-on-one instruction.
"Every child learns differently," she said. "Some need more work, one on one or in small groups. We do the best we can to help all of them."
Teachers at the school make recommendations as to who should participate in Night Owls. Teachers are also instrumental in letting the program workers know what each student should be working on.
West said that usually the program begins in October, after the youngsters have been in school for a few weeks, and runs through the end of the school year.