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After School Computer Class

nstead of going home after school and watching television, Ontario Middle School sixth-grader, Amy Lopez, 11, and her friends spent the past six weeks taking a computer class. Seventh-grader Acelia Apodaca, 13, learned how to brew her own root beer and sixth-grader Bryson Sap, 12, made a scrapbook of his family, vacations and athletics.

For the 60 OMS students who participated in the second session of the OMS SUCCESS (Students Utilizing a Caring Community to Ensure School Success) After School Project, Friday afternoon was a chance to show off the fruits of their after school labor. "He came home talking about it everyday," Brian Sap, said, while leafing through his son's colorful memories.

Refreshments at the open house were courtesy of the Fun with Food class, seventh-grade teacher Greg Alexander taught. Alexander, like the many other teachers who extended their work day well past school hours, taught his students how to make salsa, culturally diverse egg rolls, use a Dutch oven and brew root beer.

Sixth-grade teacher Manual Guzman's computer class' grand finale was a Powerpoint slide show of the students' family and friends. "They (the teachers) make it exciting," Lopez said. Providing stimulating academic, extracurricular and cultural activities between the hours when school adjourns and parents begin arriving home from work is one of the main goals of the program. "It gives them (OMS students) something to do and they get to try new things," Penny Walter, whose daughter was in the scrapbooking class, said. Funded by a three-year, $500,000 federal 21st Century Learning Center grant, OMS SUCCESS, incorporates education, health and social services into the after school activities.

The program is also charged with the task of increasing students' reading skills and knowledge of technology both in and out of a school setting. As the second session of afternoon activities comes to a close, the third is already in the works. Susan Douglas-Sap, an employee of The Family Place, was hired as OMS's 21st Century Learning Center coordinator because of her strong ties to the community and organizations. The hope is by time the grant expires the program will be fully self-sustained by the community. According to X