Program provides incentive for children to pursue higher education
By Celeste Paulson
Guiding future generations toward college, the 21st Century After-School Program allows children from San Jacinto Elementary and Whittier Elementary schools to participate in activities with Amarillo College clubs through the No Excuses program.
San Jacinto and Whittier are part of the No Excuses program that aims to show kids that there isn’t an excuse to not continue their education. AC is the first college in the nation to join the No Excuses movement.
“It’s Amarillo College connecting with San Jacinto Elementary and Whittier Elementary,” program coordinator Hilary Cordero said.
“They partner up to support the No Excuses philosophy of giving every child an equal opportunity to go to a secondary school. The purpose is to promote post-secondary education.”
To participate in the 21st Century program, clubs need to be active and fill out paperwork.
“To join, they have to fill out a request form and a background form,” Cordero said.
“I’ll give them the dates that are available and the times that are available; then they’ll see what’s best for them and fill out a request form to reserve a date. Then I’ll do paperwork, and that’s how they get their date.”
An activity takes 45 minutes to an hour. Each club will participate one to eight times a semester and has the option to make its own activity or have an activity planned for it.
“The activity can have to do with the club, but it doesn’t have to be,” Cordero said. “If they need help with the activity, I’ll make an activity for them.”
AC’s Photo Club visits San Jacinto the second and fourth Fridays of each month. The club plans hour-long photography activities with fourth and fifth graders.
“The AC students plan the activities,” photography instructor René West said.
“Last time we worked with the Camera Clubhouse kids, which is what we call them, we brought backdrop, C stands, lights and our big bag of tricks, which is all kinds of stuff for them to play dress-up.
“We taught them about portraiture, and the kids made photographs with their cameras of each other.”
Last year the Photo Club raised money to buy cameras for the program activities.
“We have 10 cameras and 10 kids,” West said.
“We raised the money for the cameras doing photo IDs all last year.
“ At the beginning of the year every kid is assigned a number, and that’s their camera for the whole semester.
“They don’t get to leave the building with them, but they’re their cameras.”
Clubs that volunteer in the program help the elementary students learn about AC and the opportunities it can provide for them after high school.
“There is benefit for both the elementary and college students as they participate in fun, engaging activities,” said Trena Rider, an intramurals specialist in Student Activities.
“The elementary students get to see and hear firsthand about different majors and opportunities at Amarillo College.
“My hope is that through the 21st Century connection, we build community between the No Excuses schools while increasing awareness of human impact on one another through engagement and mentoring.”