Giving students at Stevens Elementary School an opportunity to continue the learning experience with a one-on-one mentorship, the Williamsport Area School District and City Alliance Church partnered to offer CHEER, an after-school program for third graders at the school.

As Lynne Piotrowski, district Title 1 instructional coach, explained, the weekly, one-hour program allows third-grade students to work on a number of educational, creative and social activities beyond the classroom.

Each student is assigned a volunteer mentor that spends time having discussions with the students, helping them with their homework and doing a number of assignments.

Each day is broken into five periods – communication, homework, enrichment, engagement and review or CHEER.

“It’s a lot in an hour,” Piotrowski said.

But the program wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the support of City Alliance Church, which approached the school about doing a program.

“We’re excited to have the community support of City Alliance,” Piotrowski said.

Rose Saville-Iksic, volunteer coordinator at the church, explained that the church wanted to be more involved in the community and saw the school as an opportunity.

“We believe that empowering youth is important,” Saville-Iksic said. “Kids need good leaders in their lives to become the best person they can be.”

Currently, there are nine students involved in the program, and Piotrowski reports that in the first two weeks there hasn’t been a single student that has dropped out.

She said the commitment of the students shows how meaningful the program and activities are.

“If kids weren’t learning, it’s not fun with a purpose, then you couldn’t see nine out of nine,” Piotrowski said.

Piotrowski added that although families are meaningful parts of a child’s life, this program gives them another person to talk to and work on projects with.

And although students may not finish all of their homework during the period of time given during CHEER, those spoken to said it was their favorite part.

Desiree Hill, a program participant, explained that it cuts down on the amount of time she needs to work on it at home.

“We don’t have to do it at home,” if they finish it during the program,” Hill said.

Khiree Warrick, another program participant, added that he enjoys reading the books they do at CHEER.

“It’s fun,” Warrick said.