At Kennett Middle School, approximately 300 students stay after school to participate in the After-The-Bell program each year.
After-The-Bell was founded in 1998, when three members of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett Square saw the results of a study.
The study proved that middle school students being left unsupervised left the students at risk for criminal acts, exploitation and at-risk behavior.
Executive Director Kathleen Do said that John Wood, Denise Wood and Marshal Newton “decided to create a safe and meaningful place for students to go after school, at no cost to families, where the students would be supervised and engaged in interesting and fun activities.”
After-The-Bell takes place in fall, winter and spring cycles on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:35 to 5 p.m. Students get a snack until 3 p.m. in the cafeteria. From 3 to 4 p.m., students can participate in one activity.
Then, from 4 to 5 p.m., they can choose another activity. Otherwise, they can participate in a double session activity from 3 to 5 p.m.
Activities fall into several different categories, including academic and technological activities, creative activities, health and physical activities, science and nature activities, leadership and service activities, recreational and social activities and cultural activities.
Specific activities include bass fishing, Crossfit, basketball, calligraphy, science experiments, Pony Partners, Future Aviators, guitar, Glee, Reading Olympics, Brain Base (a homework-help laboratory) and much more.
Approximately 200 volunteers help out at After-The-Bell each year. Each of the 50 to 60 activities must be facilitated by at least one adult volunteer.
Some volunteers help with administration and supervision.
Interested volunteers should contact Executive Director Kathleen Do at firstname.lastname@example.org. When they email Do, they should indicate what specific interests they have and their availability.
The winter cycle is running from Jan. 26 to Mar. 3, and the spring cycle is from Apr. 19 to May 26.
“Those who would like to volunteer in the spring should let us know at their earliest convenience so that we can begin planning for the spring,” said Do.
Volunteers can earn internship credit.
Education majors can also earn volunteer hours towards their FATE (Formal Admission to Teacher Education) requirements.
According to Do, students studying Spanish will gain experience, as almost half of the middle school students are English language learners from Latin American countries.
Kennett Square Police Chief Edward Zunino said, “I can say without a doubt that the After-The-Bell program has been very positive in our community instilling confidence and morale among our youth.”
Volunteers are required to have or apply for PA clearances, but After-The-Bell will pay the costs and file the paperwork.
Do said, “The best thing about volunteering at After-The-Bell is that you get to do what you love! If you enjoy cooking, you can participate in a cooking class. If you love to dance, we can run a dance class. If community service is your passion, you can work with the students to make hats and scarves for the homeless, or collect food for the local food bank. You can participate in sports, the arts, science, etc. The possibilities are endless.”
For more information, check out afterthebell.org.
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. TK780615@wcupa.edu