On the evening of Oct. 20, the Haverhill Cooperative Middle School (HCMS) cafeteria was filled with families, friends and community members who came together to celebrate the fact that HCMS has a high quality afterschool program for its students. This celebration coincided with thousands of other Lights On! rallies held throughout the country that same evening to raise awareness about the importance of afterschool programs.
Those attending saw displays and performances done by the students who attend the Haverhill Extended Learning Program (HELP). Over 80 students are enrolled in HELP, which has served the children of HCMS for 9 years. Students who attend this program receive assistance with their homework and attend a wide variety of enrichment classes. The program, which meets from 3-5 p.m. each afternoon, also provides a snack and a late bus.
Martha Jenkins, the program's director, coordinates the services of the many adults and agencies who work in the program. Currently the program's partners include the Haverhill Police Department, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, the Horse Meadow Senior Center, the Woodsville/Wells River Rotary Club, and the Haverhill Recreation Department. Several teachers and support staff from the school district join with other adults from the community to provide the homework assistance and instruction each afternoon.
The program has several sources of funding, including a federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and money set aside in the school district's annual budget.
HCMS Principal Brent Walker spoke to the audience about the fact that the federal grant pays for about 40 percent of the program's annual costs. He added that this grant will expire at the end of the 2012-13 school year. He explained that in order for the program to continue serving as many children who need it, the funding shortfall will have to be made up in some way.