Program set to expand students' horizons

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As the school bus pulls up in the Base Housing area of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, 104 students ranging from the ages of eight to 12 run out, screaming, shouting and excited. At first, it seems they are excited that school is over, but as staff members of the 52nd Force Support Squadron's School Age Care Program come out to meet them, their excitement grows. Lead in groups by their respective teachers, the kids walk in an orderly fashion towards a large building with the words, "School Age Program" boldly imprinted on it.

Where are these children going? Isn't it customary to go home after a long day at school? For these kids, they're not excited to go home and spend their evening away - they're excited to go to a place where they can learn and make new friends. These are the children of the School Age Care Program's Power Hour.

The 52nd FSS SAC hosts a Power Hour every weekday at the first hour after school for Spangdahlem students to attend to gain assistance with homework and explore extracurricular subjects that will aid them with school.

Modeling itself after the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the 52nd Fighter Wing Youth Program tries to ensure that they're not only hitting educational goals, but also club goals that are needed for students.

Cristin Toth, a 52nd FSS SAC child youth program assistant, said there are lesson plans and education modules, but the program is "an enrichment program," where students receive assistance with homework, learn things related to science, math, art, and active physical activities.

"All activity is geared towards a lesson plan," Toth said. "We don't tell them to come and play; they have the choice to, but we also help them develop their education. It's a social place for kids to interact with their peers and learn different languages and cultures."

The program also includes club activities, including sculpting, learning about creative critters, cooking, photography, building remote control robots and playing different sports every week.

The facility includes a café, gym, outdoor playground, an arts and craft center and a computer lab - all these rooms are provided to ensure that students are receiving an educational boost in safe environment that also provides students with snacks, food, beverages and tutors to assist them with subjects they causes them to struggle.

"They keep us safe here," said Melissa Jones, a 12 year-old 7th grader and an enrollee at the SACP's Power Hour. "They have structure, but you're not forced to learn anything. They tell us what's going on through the day and sometimes they teach us cool facts - like, sometimes about the human body, or funny cat moments. You can meet a lot of friends with different cultural backgrounds and learn their stuff."

The program stemmed from the Military Child Care Act of 1989, which was aiming to improve the availability, management, quality and safety of child care provided on military installations, according to Jamie Cotton, 52 FSS SAC training and curriculum specialist.

"We're doing a lot of good things for kids," Cotton said. "We teach them stem programming and robotics and enroll them into art festivals and photography festivals. We're making sure we're hitting all those BGCA program goals and guidelines."

The program's Power Hour isn't designed just for intensive after-school study time or tutorship, but also aids in students' growth when it comes to enriching students with educational and hobbies, all in an environment where they can interact with different students from different backgrounds.

"If you wandered in," Cotton said. "We'd make sure to take the time, no matter who you are, to show you around the program and show you what we do around here."