School leaders, students advocate for after-school programs - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

School leaders, students advocate for after-school programs


WAUSAU (WAOW)--School officials say enrollment in after-school programs continues to rise, but that doesn't mean it's getting any easier to find funding. To raise awareness for those programs, students and teachers took part in a flash mob and concert to promote "Keep the Lights on Afterschool," a nation-wide campaign to promote after-school activities.

"I was counting to myself the one two three four beat and I was so nervous and energetic I was like shaking afterwards from the adrenaline but I was so happy," said Caitlinn Koepsell, an 8th grader at Horace Mann. She said she loves to dance, but that's just one of several after-school activities she takes part in. And she's not alone.

"We're reaching a lot of kids," said Nancy Cedar. She coordinates after-school programs for the Wausau School District and says many don't have anywhere to turn once the final bell rings.

"Many do not have anyone at home after school to supervise them. In this country alone there are 15 million kids that go home to empty homes."

Cedar joined teachers and students at the Wausau Center Thursday for a special event designed to raise awareness for such programs. She said 3,000 students took part in after-school activities in the Wausau School District last year. But despite higher enrollment, money is harder to come by.

"It means that we take this little pie and try to split it as equitably as we can," she said. She said it's important to keep these programs going because they give children a safe place to stay at a crucial time of the day. Also, after-school activities help drive passions that spill over into the classroom.

" I know a lot of people who struggle in school but their natural calling is music and they can just escape through playing the guitar or violin or piano," said Koepsell.

For more information about after-school programs where you live, including how to help, follow these links:

Wausau School District:

Merrill School District:

Wisconsin Rapids Schools:

Boys and Girls Club:

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton


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