Students put in extra time

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – At least 50 students stay after school each day at St. Joan of Arc Elementary School. Some even come in a few hours before the bell rings. They aren’t on punishment or making up classroom time, they are participants in the school’s A.M.-P.M. Care Program.

The program was developed in the 1980s, but was not a planned line item. It came about ‘incidentally,’ according to principal Larry Bourgeois, Jr.

The idea for the procedure involved an unexpected after-school incident.

At the time, a late-duty teacher was grading papers in her classroom. Two children had missed the bus home, had nowhere to go, and stayed with this teacher until their ride arrived.

“The mother was very grateful,” said Bourgeois. “She then suggested that the school offer a (regular) program like this.”

The principal found there was enough interest, especially from working parents, to follow the recommendation. The A.M.-P.M. Care Program was born.

This was good news to many parents that had to utilize other childcare before and after school hours.

Students in the morning session arrive to their designated classrooms from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m. After the session, the students move to the gym to wait for the regular school day to begin at 8:10 a.m.

After school participants go directly to their assigned classrooms, where they work on homework and other activities until someone picks them up. All students must be accounted for by 5:30 p.m.

“This (program) is strictly for convenience,” Bourgeois added. “It is not designed for late-night care.”

There is a fee involved, although it may be much less than a regular babysitter would charge.

Science teacher Mary Desimone supervises children ages Pre-K through third grade. Art teacher Ryan Tompkins overlooks the fourth- through eighth-grade group.

Although there is no rigid schedule for those participating in the program, organization of this ‘out-of-school’ time is key to its success. Homework must be done before activities or an outside recess, according to Tompkins.

“This program gives them a nice way to kick back, do homework, and talk with the others,” he said.

Teachers interested in working in the program talk with Bourgeois prior to the start of the new school year. Assignments stay in place for the year.

School Publicity Director Melissa Boudreax says the program is working extremely well. Parents are very appreciative of the convenience, she said.