'Structured time' set for teens in Carroll Supervision: A Taneytown church offers middle and high school students an alternative to the unsupervised hours spent waiting for parents to arrive home from work.

November 06, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

A Taneytown church is the first to start an after-school program for middle school and high school students, and another group is planning a similar alternative to "hanging out."

Messiah United Methodist Church's After School Club for 10- to 15-year-olds meets from 3: 30 p.m. to 6 p.m. three days a week at the church. The program started the school year with 12 students, now has six and is looking for members.

Teen-agers and preteens need afternoon activities while their parents are working, said the Rev. Laura L. Schultz, the pastor.

"That's the time kids are most likely to get into trouble, experiment with drugs. They need structured time," she said.

Taneytown's Family and Community Council is planning an after-school program that community coordinator Michelle Schaffer said will be "for everybody in the Taneytown community, from kindergarten to high school." The council is looking for a location.

Two other Carroll communities, Westminster and Eldersburg, have afternoon programs for middle school students. Neither program is church-affiliated and both charge admission. Messiah's program is free but includes an effort to bring participants and their families into the church.

In Westminster, the city Recreation Department's program draws an average of 40 students a day to Longwell Center. Students pay a $1 annual membership fee, plus 25 cents daily for admission, help with homework and organized recreation. The program has been recognized by the governor's office as a model after-school program.

Carroll County YMCA has an average of 15 students in its 3-year-old daily program at Oklahoma Road Middle School in Eldersburg. The program offers intramural basketball, flag football and lacrosse, "an opportunity to get their homework done" and activities such as trips to the swimming pool or to play miniature golf, according to Anne Marie Law, director of family and children's services. The monthly fee is $160.

The Taneytown program includes a snack; an hour of homework, during which students work with volunteer mentors; and an hour of recreation. A pilot program in the spring brought out "hangers on," teen-agers' younger brothers and sisters who also needed homework help. Two high school students work with younger children.

Schultz is frank about her interest in getting students and their families to join the church. Friday afternoons, the students rehearse skits to be performed during Sunday church services. Drama group brings the students to church, Schultz said, "then they go to youth group and talk about values."

Jeff Eyler, a volunteer mentor, would like to add a closing prayer and biblical teaching to the program. "I want the children to realize this is a Christian organization and not a baby-sitting service," he said.

Schultz found few activities for children when she began at Messiah three years ago. Church leaders talked about possible programs, "and finally we said, 'Let's stop talking about it and do something,' " she said.

Co-coordinator Fred Robinson, trained in literacy tutoring, is working with Carroll County Literacy Council to have students in the program evaluated. He will use the information to plan tutoring to meet students' needs.

Messiah's after-school program may be expanded. Thunderhead Lanes bowling alley co-owner Angie Rebert, a retired schoolteacher, wants to bring the program to the lanes one day a week if sponsors can provide transportation.

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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