MOULTRIE -- So what's in an after-school program? You can come to open house Thursday and find out.

Five programs sponsored by the Moultrie-Colquitt County Communities in Schools/Family Connection will open their doors to the community from 4:30 to 6 p.m. so that everyone can see what they're all about.

Denise Bell, executive director of CIS and Family Connection, said the children will be there to show their work, and samples of the teaching materials the centers use will be available.

All the centers are community-based, Bell said, and some people in the community don't know what they do. That's especially true in Berlin, whose center doesn't actually open until January.

The five centers are:

R.E.A.C.H. Program at the Ryce Community Center, 407 Seventh St. N.E. in Moultrie.

Moultrie Housing Authority Northwest Center, 725 Fourth St. N.W. in Moultrie.

Moultrie Housing Authority Southeast Center, 739 Third Ave. S.E. in Moultrie.

Ellenton Migrant Clinic, 155 N. Baker St. in Ellenton.

City of Berlin Youth Center, 283 Langford St. in Berlin.

Funding for the centers comes from a 21st Century Learning Centers grant worth $689,000 per year for three to five years -- federal money routed through the state Department of Education, Bell said. The money allowed CIS to expand three existing after-school programs and create the ones in Ellenton and Berlin.

Once the Berlin center is up and running, all five together will serve 180 children, Bell said.

The programs have three parts -- academics, youth development and parent involvement. Academically, the centers use a research-based curriculum that includes time for homework, self-directed learning and direct instruction. Youth development includes anti-drug and anti-violence messages, life skills training and character education. Parent involvement includes a commitment to five family activities per year, parenting workshops and parent-student interaction activities.

The target age group is from kindergarten to fifth grade. Most can be taken from their school to the center by school system buses, Bell said; other transportation is available where that isn't feasible. Most will arrive by 3 p.m. The Colquitt County School System's food services provide the students a snack. Students stay until 5:30 p.m., and transportation home is provided.

In addition, Bell said, each site offers -- or will offer, in the case of Berlin -- GED and English as a Second Language classes for adults. They don't even have to have students in the after-school program to participate.

Thursday's open house is affiliated with Lights On Afterschool! More than 6,000 communities will rally for afterschool programs Thursday by participating in the fifth anniversary of the Lights On Afterschool! event, which calls attention to afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open, according to a press release from the group.

For more information about Lights On Afterschool!, visit the Web site www.afterschoolalliance.com.

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