Parents aren't always able to rush to school or be home when the bell rings at the end of the day, so organizations across the metro want to find another way to keep children busy in the afternoon.
At Omaha’s Marrs Magnet Middle School, the after-school program is so popular there's a waiting list. The focus is getting kids to keep the learning going after they leave class.
In Omaha Public Schools, outside organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Completely Kids and Partnership 4 Kids come in to offer free programs. Other districts offer programs through school foundations, too. In Millard, it's the Kids Network offered for just elementary students. In Papillion-La Vista, Kids Club is for elementary students and in Bellevue there’s Kids Time, also for elementary students. Fees for those range from $20 to $200 a month.
Programs like these want to get rid of the "day care" label and ramp up activities by extending the school day in a fun way. Parents say that extra help is certainly needed. “Even though I have the scheduled time where I can be done and go home, I still have work that I need to do,” says Merry Metz-Martinez. “Having them in Completely Kids gives me the opportunity to get things done that I need to get done."
"I'll be honest, school is boring, but after-school programs are better because you don't actually learn stuff, but you do, but they make it fun," says one student.
Marrs' students did an experiment with soda to see how many artificial sugars were in it. It was fun to shoot the drink into the air, but they learned the chemistry behind it, too. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Program has numerous clubs run by Completely Kids partners, Creighton Health and Nebraska Wildlife Rehab teachers. Students decide what they want to learn to extend the school day in a lasting and fun way.
"Instead of going home to watch television and not work your mind, in the clubs you get to work, think, be creative, be yourself, be with friends and talk,” says sixth-grader Jocelyn Vasquez.
"It's going to help them with their social skills, it's going to help them do better in school, it's going to help them be able to value their community,” says Completely Kids’ Amber Noutoua.
Completely Kids is in several other OPS elementary and middle schools. If you want to find an after-school program for your child, go to collectiveforyouth.org or ask a school counselor.