The BYC, which offers after-school homework help, mentoring, activities and supervision in a safe and fun environment, continues to offer new opportunities for the county’s youth each year.
That safe and fun environment has historically been at the club’s permanent location in Warsaw, 765 W. Market St. Last school year, however, three BYC satellite locations were opened at local schools. Due to the success of the initial program, another three satellite locations were started this school year.
The new BYC satellite program at Leesburg Elementary School has seen enormous use. Although it has not yet been opened to the entire school population, approximately 20 percent of the school’s students are already utilizing this after-school program each Monday through Thursday.“Leesburg is ready to launch an invitation to all interested families in our school. We anticipate many more students taking advantage of this opportunity after school,” says Leesburg principal Randy Dahms. “Anytime students can receive extra help on homework they will be more academically successful, as homework is an extension of what was previously learned in class. I want Leesburg to be a school that can be of help to our families that we serve. A program like this can help the parents of our students who have busy work schedules.”
Amber Cotherman, Leesburg’s English Language teacher (formally known as English as a Second Language) says 90 percent of the school’s EL students are currently benefitting from the BYC after-school program. Mainly of Hispanic descent, Cotherman says many of these students’ parents are unable to help them with homework because they cannot speak English well.
“This program has been huge for us,” says Cotherman. “The students can now receive help with their homework where otherwise they would not. It also gives them a chance to attend after-school activities that many have never experienced before, like volleyball or soccer games.”
Syracuse Elementary School, North Webster Elementary School and Claypool Elementary School house the original three BYC satellite programs. Milford Elementary School, Leesburg Elementary School and North Webster Community Center were added to the satellite program this school year.
Elementary students meet in the schools’ cafeterias after school Monday through Thursday for a snack, homework help or reading time, as well as an activity or free time. Certified teachers are at each location to aid with academics and there is no cost to attend the BYC program.
Students in the Wawasee Community School District meet for the BYC program from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Students in the Warsaw Community School District meet from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Transportation home from the elementary schools is provided to students from Syracuse to Enchanted Hills and Bayview Estates; from Leesburg to Whispering Pines and Suburban Acres; and from Claypool to Hideaway Hills and Shamrock Mobile Home Park.
The BYC satellite program at the North Webster Community Center meets from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Transportation is provided for Wawasee Middle School students from school to the community center.
The BYC Teen Club offers homework help from certified teachers, after school snacks, structured activities, gym time, video games, movies and monitoring by staff members.
Beginning Oct. 8, the Teen Club is currently a pilot program that will run through Christmas break. It may be extended throughout the rest of the school year if enough interest is shown.
“It’s amazing how well our satellite programs have taken off,” says Tamara Drake, BYC program director. “We are serving approximately 350 kids throughout the county. As the colder weather hits, our numbers typically double. We are super excited to see where this is going.”
“I can’t say enough about BYC and how much I appreciate their commitment to the children of our community,” said Dahms. “I feel blessed to have gotten to know Tracy (Furnivall, executive director) and Tamara at BYC. I see first-hand the passion they have for the students and families of our community. When you have wonderful community partners, a supportive school system and a committed and dedicated Leesburg staff, our students will flourish.”
For more information about the BYC satellite program, contact Drake at (574) 267-8771 or call your child’s school.