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Day care alternative

Parents show support for after-school program in Humboldt school district

October 19, 2009

DAKOTA CITY - For some parents, putting their child in day care after school isn't an option, and others might believe their children are just too young to be home alone.

To alleviate those concerns for parents, the Humboldt Community School District is offering a community supported after-school program at Mease Elementary School in Dakota City. The program provides a fun, safe place for children to spend time after school at no cost to parents.

Although based within a school, the program is entirely funded by grants and outside donations, said after-school program coordinator Lyn Otto.

"We started this last year at Taft Elementary," Otto said. "It had been in the works for a long time until we received a grant to get going. We started doing it one day a week and it grew from there."

The program is open to kindergarten through third grade students. Students come from Mease and Taft Elementary Schools as well as St. Mary's Catholic School. It has an average participation of 35 students per day.

"We're still hoping to grow in numbers," Otto said.

Otto and assistants Patti Connor and Jenn Shepard oversee the program, which also staffed with several volunteers and older children who help with activities.

The program begins each day with an after-school snack, which is often provided by the parents of children who attend.

"This is a completely free program," said Otto. "Sometimes we'll ask parents to bring snacks, which they are willing to do. It's a small payment when compared to all their children get to do here."

For first-grader Hunter Berry the snacks are something he looks forward to each day when he is finished at school.

"I love the snacks, that's my favorite," he said. "The apples and caramel are the best."

Third-grader Jaycie Vaudt also said the snacks were an enjoyable part of attending the After School Program.

"I like to have snacks and playing with my friends," she said.

Otto said most days students in the program spend time playing, but that they also have special programs on occasion from Iowa State University Extension.

"Last year they learned about rockets and airplanes from Iowa State," she said. "We're always looking for programs, anyone with age-appropriate programs are welcome to come speak."

The after school program is also seeking donations of games, toys puzzles and snacks. Anyone interested in donating items to the program may contact Lyn Otto at

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515)573-2141 or



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