By Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs
During the school year, many parents struggle with balancing morning routines and getting their children ready for school. Between waking up the children, making breakfast and dropping off the children with a family friend, neighbor, or babysitter just to make sure they make it to school on time, getting children out the door can sometimes be hectic. The 673d Force Support Squadron offers various family-service programs such as the school age centers for 5-to-12 year olds.
The Illa and Ketchikan School Age Centers provide before-and-after school care programs for school-age children. The centers facilitate and enhance each child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development by implementing purposeful activities and interest areas each child may choose to explore.
“When children get back from school and want to get a head-start to finish their homework so they can have more playtime at home, they can use the power hour,” said Carla Davis, Ketchikan School Age Center director. “Power hour is a time for the children to go into the computer lab and work on their homework if they so choose. Staff is available to help them if needed.”
During the power hour, the children also have the opportunity to earn points for doing their homework from school, worksheets provided in the classroom, or for reading. They can use these points to receive prizes, added Davis.
For enrichment and learning through play and hands-on activities, Samantha Sheets, Ketchikan School Age Center Child and Youth Program Assistant said she comes up with creative lesson plans by talking to the children to figure out what they would like to learn or what interests them.
“A couple of the pre-teens wanted to play Battleship and were looking for new ways to play Battleship, so I came up with a creative idea of incorporating Microsoft Excel into it,” Sheets said. “[Once the kids learn how to use Excel] we will be playing Battleship against each other using what they’ve learned with Excel.”
Another hands-on activities is the art room. Recently staff and students sent a variety of different kinds of arts to enter into the Alaska State Fair Art Exhibits.
“The art room is an area for the children to express themselves. It has many activities for the children to choose from and has supplies readily available to them at all times so they can be creative anytime they like,” said Davis. “This year, we had approximately 50 students participate in all the projects that were entered into the fair.”
Last year, the students won first place in the Fine Arts category at the Alaska State Fair Art Exhibits.
Torch Club, another program, promotes leadership and character development by performing community services such as a canned-food drive, knitting hats for the Child Development Centers on JBER or for cancer patients at Providence Hospital, and toy drives.
Regardless what program the children are interested in, the school age programs offer a wide range of physical as well as quiet activities, a gross motor skills activity area, power hour homework, library and computer lab, trained tutors, science department, theater and arts programs and field trips. There are programs for all ages and interests.
Care is offered from 6 to 8:30 a.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m. when school is in session; and 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for teacher in-service days, school closure days and school vacations.
For more information on how to enroll a child at the Illa School Age Center, call 384-1068; for the Ketchikan School Age Center, call 552-5091.