McDuffie County children enrolled in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers joined with other students across the nation in celebrating after-school programs with a "Lights On" event at Thomson Middle School Oct. 12.
More than 400 students enrolled in the CCLC program, along with parents and other special guests, attended the celebration. The annual event seeks to focus attention on the need for after-school programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open.
Thomson Elementary students Hannah Cato, left, and Chandra Catchings perform a cheer for after school programs during the Lights On celebration.
"We're extremely proud of our 21st Century Program. We've had an excellent program in operation since 1999," said Project Director Luci Linnenkohl.
Four schools in the county offer the program: Dearing Elementary, Thomson Elementary, Norris Elementary and Thomson Middle.
Each school entertained the audience with short presentations, and the Thomson Middle School band performed several numbers.
Student Brianna Hart spoke on what the after-school program meant to her.
"21st Century is an awesome program. It has helped me become a better, more organized student," said the Thomson Middle School honor student.
Brianna, an eighth grader who is in her fifth year with the program, completed homework from 4 -- 6 p.m. every day before her parents picked her up at 6:30, she explained.
Also as part of the program, Dearing Elementary students presented the skit "From Good to Great" with the audience joining in for some singing.
Thomson Elementary kindergartners and first graders presented "21st Century Happy People," while the second and third graders had a cheer team complete with pom-poms and large mock-ups of footballs.
Students from Norris Elementary sang and danced. Dwane Jenkins sang "I Believe I Can Fly," and Tavin Walker and Sherdric Grant presented an original step song about the importance of education.
Thomson Middle Schoolers performed "Take It to the Floor," a dance routine.
In conclusion, Alex Casteel, Sara Beth Shouse and Summer Doolittle sang "Amazing Grace."
School Board members Georgia Hobbs, Mike Love, Nether Ivery and Louise Burgess welcomed the talent presentations and offered remarks.
Each October, more than 6,000 communities rally for after school programs by participating in the Lights On Afterschool celebration, the only national event to focus on after school programs and their important role. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has served as chair of the celebration since 2001.