Popular after-school program aims for deep !MPACT

December 11, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Drew Fritz (left) and Will Dunlap play foosball during the !MPACT after-school program at Maywood Middle School. By Christina Corrales-Toy

Most days of the week, it takes a bit of coaxing to get Maywood Middle School sixth-grader Alya Phillips out of bed.

But on days when she gets to go to !MPACT, an after-school enrichment program at the school, you don’t have to ask her twice to wake up.

“Usually during the week I’m really tired, and I have nothing to do after school, and then I realize it’s an !MPACT day and it helps me get out of bed a little bit faster,” she said.

!MPACT is a fun, engaging program that gives middle school students a place to develop their interests and craft new relationships in a safe, monitored environment, said Karen Kirsch, the program’s site manager.

The program is already in place at middle schools across the Issaquah School District, but this is !MPACT’s inaugural year at Maywood.

Maywood Middle School

On the Web

Learn more about Maywood Middle School’s !MPACT program at http://bit.ly/Uc5BMV.

“It’s definitely growing,” Kirsch said. “We’re projected to be the biggest program on the south end in a few years. We’re going to be busting at the seams probably, because there isn’t really a program like this in this area.”

The district program combines tutoring, homework time, enrichment classes and recreation to provide a unique environment that not only benefits the children, but also assists working parents looking for affordable after-school care.

Maywood’s program has a plethora of activities to keep kids entertained, including a pool table, a foosball table, an Xbox and a Wii.

But it’s not all fun, games and field trips, even though a lot of it is, Kirsch said. It’s also about doing homework and learning new things.

For example, Kirsch plans technology lessons utilizing an iPad, hosts cooking classes and creates activities that force the kids to think critically about the world around them.

“It’s really driven by student interest, and we kind of explore different things that they want to do,” Kirsch said. “It’s a place to hang out, essentially, right after school and do something productive. That’s really what it is.”

Derrick Bridges enrolled his daughter Mikayla in the Maywood program and said he appreciates the fact that she is doing something educational and fun after school.

“I work 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., so I can’t get her until the evening, and the fact that she can sit and learn and interact with other kids is just great,” he said. “I mean, they went to GameWorks last week and that’s stuff that I can’t quite do for her during the day, so it’s awesome.”

Mikayla’s favorite part about !MPACT is the opportunity to create new friendships with her fellow !MPACT participants.

“I would really miss these people if we didn’t have !MPACT,” she said.

For Alya, the prospect of !MPACT is the main thing that keeps her going through a long, tiresome school day.

“I always look forward to coming to !MPACT,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like you are at a daycare type thing. There’s pingpong, pool and a foosball table.”

!MPACT is open weekdays after school, during school breaks and during the summer. For the school year, the fee is $225 per month, if a child goes to !MPACT every weekday. The cost decreases depending on how many days a week a child attends.

Even with the fee, Bridges said he would recommend the program to any parent.

“You know it’s the most inexpensive thing for parents around and the most beneficial to your kids,” he said.

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