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WARREN — After facing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years, the 21st Century After-School Program offered at Willard and Jefferson K-8 Schools has resumed hosting offsite events and field trips — including at the Akron-Canton airport.
Michael Engram of Game Changers and also liaison for the 21st Century After-School Program at Willard School, said there were more than 40 school-aged students in the program.
“We want young people to have the opportunity to experience learning first-hand in their own backyard. We take them to different places so they can see that anything is possible for career choices,” he said.
The City of Warren Schools 21st Century Community Learning Center was established in the fall of 2012. Federal grant money is used to run the program in two of the district’s four K-8 schools.
The vision of the program is for every child to experience success in school and in the community. The program emphasizes reading, math, developing personal skills, and exposure to new opportunities in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment.
The program maintains relationships with Kent State University at Trumbull, Warren Trumbull County Public Library, Akron Children’s Hospital, and Trumbull Family Fitness.
The program takes place after school Monday through Thursday. Students benefit from lunch, homework help, math and language lessons, and social and emotional learning time based on computer projects. They also have art, yoga, fitness and STEM.
BACK IN FLOW
Engram said since COVID-19 numbers are down, the program is back in the flow of taking students to places outside of the school building.
A recent event was learning at the Akron-Canton airport where 50 students and chaperones visited. Airport CEO Ren Camacho welcomed the students from Willard and Jefferson.
The students created a small personalized plane to dedicate to the airport. Camacho said it will be displayed in the terminal for the general public to enjoy.
Lily Rose Tittle, a sixth-grade student at Willard, said she gets help with her schoolwork but can also participate in art and music and go on field trips.
“It was the first time I went to an airport. It was really big and there were so many people working there. I had only seen airplanes in photos and on TV, so I got to see them up close and sit in them,” Lily Rose said.
Annita Tillman, a seventh-grader at Willard, said she has learned a lot since attending the program, especially how important math skills are for many jobs.
“We did more than schoolwork. There were a variety of things to see and do. We were able to walk around an airport and see the planes and talk to the people who work there,” Annita said.
Adrian Komora, site coordinator for the 21st Century after-school program at Willard, said the students really enjoyed the trips – something they hadn’t been able to do in two years.
“Schools were closed and there were no events. There were masks and social distancing…and some places did not allow on-site visits,” Komora said.
Camacho explained that the airport is like “a city within the city” with all the different jobs there, like a rental car agency, fire department, and food businesses.
“They can see different careers within the airport and the different aviation and airport jobs, such as tourism and operations. They could also tour the airport and see maps and older planes up close,” said Engram.
He said that for many students it may have been the first time they had been so close to an airplane.
“The key to any trip is keeping students informed about career opportunities,” Engram said.
The students toured the airport hangar and saw the maintenance and other necessary work. They also visited a cargo plane.