Students to showcase afterschool talents

SAN BENITO — Dozens of San Benito students will showcase what they’ve learned in after school programs at the annual Lights on Afterschool fall festival happening this weekend.

The festival will have numerous activities, such as rides, games, live music, concession stands, a haunted house and a costume contest.

Students in the district’s after school program receive academic tutoring, homework assistance and are able to enjoy an array of electives, such as gardening, ballroom dancing, piano and robotics.

The goal of the After School Program is to extend learning opportunities outside of the regular school day that will improve students’ academic performance, attendance, positive behavior, grade promotion and graduation rates.

San Benito CISD Program Director Jack Garcia has been working with after school programs for 20 years.

He believes the festival is a great opportunity for students to showcase all of the after school programs the students work so hard in.

“I’ve seen these programs give students opportunities to explore their interests while giving parents the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their children are safe and supervised,” Garcia said.

Lights on Afterschool was created by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works toward ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable after school programs.

Lights on Afterschool rallies have been celebrated nationwide since 2000.

Currently, more than 8,000 rallies are held annually.

According to the Lights on Afterschool website, 11.3 million children are alone and unsupervised after school.

The event was created to bring awareness toward the importance of afterschool programs for children, families and communities.

Every year, the Alliance selects 12 to 20 Afterschool Ambassadors from around the country.

Garcia is one of 15 afterschool leaders named this year to serve as an Ambassador, which works to help keep kids be safe, inspire children to learn and help working families.

Throughout the year, Ambassadors conduct various tasks, such as coordinating Lights on Afterschool community events, reaching out to policy makers and the media on afterschool issues and working with local providers, advocates and business and community leaders to promote afterschool.

In prior years, Garcia said about 3,000 to 5,000 people attended the event.

“I expect there to be a good turnout again this year, weather permitted, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed,” he said, laughing.

If You Go

Who — San Benito CISD

What — Lights on Afterschool fall festival

When — Saturday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Where — Old Greyhound Stadium, 600 North Austin Street

Activities

• Food

• Prizes

• Games

• Cake walk

• Live music

• Haunted house

• Pumpkin contest

• Costume contest

Fall festival itinerary

5:30 to 10:30 p.m. — Concession, games and rides

6 to 7:15 p.m. — School performances

7 to 10:30 p.m. — Haunted house

7:30 to 8 p.m. — Costume contest

7:30 to 8 p.m. — Technology showcase

7:45 to 10 p.m. — Live music