By Stephanie Choate
September 5th, 2013
A new program in Williston is providing a fun and engaging after school experiences for students and helping alleviate childcare stress for parents.
Part 2 is a “fun-based afterschool program” for students in kindergarten through grade 8 that provides a wide range of activities for students, said Jeff O’Hara, who heads the program for Chittenden South Supervisory Union and is co-principal of Hinesburg Community School.
Just a week old, the program already draws approximately 100 Williston students per day. Students can attend Part 2 two to five days a week throughout the school year.
Between 2:45 to 6 p.m. each day, students take part in outdoor play, team building activities, arts and crafts, science projects, games and more.
“We offer enough so every child has something they are interested in,” O’Hara said.
The program also includes time spent in the library on homework or reading.
“We always ask parents to come to us if they would like kids to have help and time doing homework,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara began Part 2 in Hinesburg three years ago, expanding a program that was run by the YMCA. Shelburne then included it among its offerings, and, this year, Part 2 has come to Williston.
“The program is alluring to (parents) because it is a school-based after school program opportunity,” O’Hara said. “All the initiatives are the same—we can help students meet targeted goals socially, emotionally and academically… the greater the possibility in the after-school hours to reach the students.”
Katie Fraser, the program director for Williston School District, said the staff is “thrilled” with the way the Williston program is going so far.
“It’s going very well,” she said. “We’re really focusing these first few days on building community and structure.”
Part 2 focuses on fun and learning, she said.
“We are huge on providing a variety of activities for the children to choose from and we are big on there being a skill or learning component,” Fraser said.
Beyond having fun, Part 2 provides opportunities for student growth, she said.
“Everything we do is socially and developmentally appropriate for their level and I think they get so much out of that,” she said. “They’re growing physically, emotionally, socially and academically… when parents arrive and they have a sad face and they don’t want to leave, for us that’s a great sign that they are happy and are getting so much out of our program.”
Since Part 2 is run through the school, it also offers the opportunity for extra academic help for those who need it.
“It’s not an intervention program, but being a school-based program, we can easily make those connections,” Fraser said.
The largest number of students in Part 2 are in kindergarten through fourth grade, along with a “healthy population” of fifth and sixth grade students and a few older students, O’Hara said.
Hinesburg resident Diane Brigham’s sons, Thomas and Charlie Garavelli, have been enrolled in Part 2 since the program began in Hinesburg three years ago.
“I have two busy active boys and the best part about it for them is just the range of activities,” Brigham said. “There’s so much they do to keep them busy and engaged.”
So much, in fact, that they never want to leave when she arrives to pick them up, she said.
“It’s like I have to drag them out,” she said. “You would think that after a long day of school they would be ready to go, but they really enjoy being at Part 2.”
Her sons also took part in the summer camp offered by the program.
“I think undoubtedly the best thing about Part 2 is the staff,” she said. “To me, they seem more like educators rather than just counselors. They seem like their vested in the future of the kids.”
Allyson Stewart, who moved to Williston two weeks ago, has two children enrolled in Part 2—kindergartener Olivia and second grade student Kyle.
“It’s going great,” she said. “There’s a lot of kids and they seem really engaged with the activities. The staff is super friendly to both parents and the kids. I’ve been really happy.”
The program costs parents $42-79 per child, depending on how many days a week the child attends.
For more information, visit part2kids.com. Anyone interested in registering a child for the current school year should send a registration form, available on the Part 2 website, to Jeff O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marianne Apfelbaum contributed reporting to this article.