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LTS Community Program Deemed Success

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LYNDON -- A program aimed at helping new middle school students and their families recently celebrated its conclusion and offered its gratitude to the community sponsor partners who made the Step Up and PROSPER program a success at Lyndon Town School this fall.

The PROSPER part of the name for the program stands for PROmoting School-community-university-Partnerships to Enhance Resilience, and the program recently completed its first offering at LTS, the Strengthening Families program.

The program featured seven workshops that are fun for families and help youth to deal with handling peer pressure, showing respect for others, understanding and appreciating their family, and how to deal better with stress.

For the parents who take part, they are helped with improving communication, instructed on how to be kind but firm, using love and limits, and they are taught how to be consistent with rules and expectations.

"Step Up and PROSPER is our way of shepherding sixth graders into the new challenges and excitement of the middle school age," said LTS Principal Amy Gale. "We want to help kids and parents be successful during this time of school and life."

Gale said the program's first run, which recently ended, was an all-around success and the school is seeking more partners to work with it and the University of Vermont's Extension program which helped bring the offering to the school this year.

"The students, parents and staff who have participated in this first session have been overwhelmingly positive. I am grateful that they made the commitment to coming each week and have made the program a success."

Gale said, "We look forward to future sessions with new students and families. Also, we encourage community members, businesses, and organizations to partner with us to support the program and ensure it can continue at Lyndon Town School."

Families attended a total of seven sessions for the program, said Lindsay Jones, the UVM Extension 4-H educator for Caledonia and Lamoille counties, and the PROSPER Team Leader who brought the program to LTS. A total of nine families took part in the first program, Jones said. In addition to LTS and UVM staff, the program also had team members from the community who met monthly, including from the Vermont Department of Health, the Caledonia North Supervisory Union, First Congregational Church of Lyndonville, RuralEdge and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

"We had monetary sponsorship of this program from NVRH, McQuade Construction and the Parent Teacher Group at LTS," said Jones, adding that the following businesses helped provide the meals at a reasonable price: Lyndonville House of Pizza, Pizza Man, White's Market, The First Congregational Church in Lyndonville, Sodexo and Lyndon State College, and The Abbey group provided the dessert for each session. Also, RuralEdge provided the Pizza Hut $75 value cards each family received at their graduation. The UVM 4-H Foundation donated $600 for supplies, as well, she said.

"There are many great things about the Step Up and PROSPER program," said Jones. "It has created a strong partnership with LTS, UVM Extension and local organizations and individuals."

In one of the final sessions, parents learned about how to protect their youths against drug and alcohol abuse, and they wrote letters to their children to let them know they want the best for them and what their rules were on that serious topic. Youths found out how to deal with peer pressure, said Jordan Adams, age 11, one of the sixth graders who took part in the program.

For Jordan, he hadn't wanted to go to the program at first, he said, but by last week, when it already was the last night, he was sad it was ending. "It taught me a lot about friends and peer pressure, they provided a lot of information for us," he said.

Having time with her older son was really healthy, said Jordan's mom, Denise Montgomery. "It's nice to just be with him and get to know him as Jacob," she said. Her younger son, Tyler, was taken care of in the child care offering, giving the mother and her older son time to work on their topics, sometimes together, sometimes in separate parent/child workshops. "We've really enjoyed the program," said Denise, "It's been healthy."

At first, Jacob resisted going back and spending more time at school, said his mom, but last week, the final session, as they headed to LTS, he told her, "I'm going to miss going there."

Jones said the Step Up and PROSPER program will be offering another session of its Strengthening Families Program 10-14 starting Feb. 13, and registrations are now being taken.

Registrations for the next offering should be made by signing up at Lyndon Town School by Jan. 16. Anyone with questions on the program is invited to contact Amy Gale at LTS at 626-3209 or Lindsay Jones at 274-1044.

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