Colome girl’s idea lights up ceremonyA 9-year-old Colome girl saw her idea go up in lights on the Corn Palace Saturday.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
A 9-year-old Colome girl saw her idea go up in lights on the Corn Palace Saturday.
Parents, educators and advocates gathered into the Corn Place Saturday night for the South Dakota observance of the national Lights on Afterschool event.
A mural based on a design by Colome afterschool program participant Rebekah White lit up the night — and her face.
Lights on Afterschool is a nationwide rally to highlight the importance of afterschool programs for children.
Saturday’s event featured a number of speakers talking about afterschool program issues and was capped off with the ceremonial lighting of the Corn Palace.
Rebekah’s drawing of cheerleaders was chosen through a statewide contest to be a mural on the outside of the Corn Palace because it best exemplifies how important afterschool programs are for kids.
She said she enjoys the afterschool program she attends because she gets to play house with friends. Rebekah chose to draw a picture of cheerleaders because she wants to be a cheerleader when she grows up, she said.
When Rebekah saw her mural lit up on the side of the Corn Palace all she could say is, “That’s so cool.”
During the event Saturday, Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen served as emcee.
Levsen was chosen because of his work with Aberdeen day care centers, which now require background checks and fenced-in backyards.
“Only 12 percent of schoolage children in South Dakota participate in an after-school program,” he said, “But statistics show many more would participate if there were a program in their town.”
The first speaker of Saturday’s event was Parkston Elementary Principal Rob Monson, who serves as president of National Association of Elementary Principals.
Monson spoke of a time in the past when children would come home after school and have a parent waiting for them.
“I do think those days are behind us,” he said. “When children get home from school their parents are more than likely still working and these kids need a place to go.”
According to Monson, with schools under budget constraints, afterschool programs will be the first on the chopping block.
“Schools can’t do it all by themselves; we need community involvement as well if we really want to make these programs work,” Monson said.
Mitchell High School freshman A.J. Krumholz spoke about how being on the football team and having something to do after school has made him a better person.
“Through football I have made so many friends and learned a lot about leadership,” he said.
“Let’s face it, when I am at football practice I can’t be doing anything illegal,” Krumholz said, “I know what you are thinking, shouldn’t I know better? I do know better but just think of football as insurance.”
Krumholz said if he didn’t have football he is not sure what he would be doing.
Around 75 people attended the event Saturday, which was sponsored by South Dakota Afterschool Partnership, South Dakota School Age Care Alliance, South Dakota Voices for Children, South Dakota Department of Education and Avera Queen of Peace.
More than one million people at 7,500 events throughout the country were involved in the awareness rallies.