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Community After School Program

In the above photo one of our younger students is learning the basic operation of a computer through the use of appropriate video games. Not only is she learning valuable computer skills, but she is also having fun and gaining confidence.

Community After School Program

In this photo students are busily engaged in one of Mrs. "B's" many art projects. Not only are they gaining new skills in our arts and crafts program they are again having fun and are unwinding after a busy school day.

Core Programs

The Community After-School Program (CASP)

Our organization—the Cedar Hill Community Development Corporation—is in its ninth year of continuous operation. We serve the children of working, low-income parents as a non-profit organization. The CDC's two core programs are: a high quality Community After School Program (CASP), and a six week Summer Camp Program. CASP provides a safe, nuturing and enriching environment for children in kindergarten through sixth grade from the end of their school day to their parent's return home from work.

A significant number of our students are from families at or below the poverty level. At the CASP, children with homework assignments receive support from staff and volunteers as needed, and our older children from the John Hill School use our nine computer lab to complete online assignments. In addition to our very significant cost benefit, we graduate motivated, confident and competent next-generation's high achievers.

Our students closely engage with positive role models from adults to teenage Junior Mentors. Now in our 15th year of operation, many of our Junior Mentors are our former after-school students who have returned to our program as volunteers or paid staff members. We take great pride in the accomplishments of these graduates. In turn, our present students interact especially well with these youngsters who already "know the ropes."

Our after-school program is carefully structured to not simply be an extension of our student's usual school day, but also to expand their skill sets with arts and crafts, music, performing arts, computer training, language enhancment, and perhaps most importantly, develop their strong sense of self-confidence, self-esteem and respect.

A typical day begins with an escorted walk from the School Street School for our K-3rd grade students and an escorted walk from the more distant John Hill School for our 4th-6th grade students. The younger children arrive at about 3:00pm for a show-and-tell session to begin their unwinding from their busy school day. This session takes place in the hall of our rented facilities from St. John's Episcopal church. About 3:10pm the older students arrive for their meeting in the undercroft of the rented hall for their more free-wheeling unwinding session led by Mrs. "B."

Then it's time for a nutritious snack when all of our children gather at tables in the hall where they are served. On good weather days, which happen more often than not, the real unwinding takes place in our playground area under close supervision. For students with homework tutors and staff are available for assistance.

Depending upon the monthly schedule and time of year, lessons and rehearsals begin for: Taekwondo with a volunteer master instructor; singing lessons with a volunteer music teacher; arts and crafts with volunteer scout leaders; performing arts lessons from Mrs. "B" for our annual talent show, fashion show and Christmas concerts; supervised computer lab internet surfing, video games and online homework.

A summertime swim in a donor's poolOn a seasonal basis there are field trips for: swimming in donor provided home pools, as seen in the photo on the left; picnics in nearby Tourne Park; bowling; movies; and visits to local farms. Other field trips occur from time to time from special donations from our generous supporting donors for activities such as: participation in the Shakespeare Theatre at Drew University, basic golf instruction, a nearby amusement park and science centers.

A small group of our students participate in each of our major annual fundraising events as junior hosts. Several times a year all of our students participate in car washing fundraising events. On the last school day of each month we hold a birthday party for those students with birthdays that month.

We are licensed by the State of New Jersey for a maximum of 40 students in our present facility. Typically thirty-five children are present at any one time. At times we reach our maximum limit and there is a waiting list of families needing after-school care.

Our students are from diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds and most are from low-income families. Without CASP, their families could not afford quality after-school child care. CASP fees are based upon family income and size, and range from $2 per child/day to $8 per child/day every day that the Boonton Schools are in session.

In addition to our program's development of learning skills and promoting positive youth development, we offer shelter from the risks these children would otherwise face on the streets.

Our students typically work in small groups of six with direct supervision. The small groups make it easier to supervise children and provide individual attention.

Our programs are founded on the principles of effective after-school care. These principles include:

Our programs do not take the place of the school programs. Instead, they reinforce school time and provide children a balance between structure and freedom. Principles of our program are highlighted in a study called Critical Hours, funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

In the study, after-school participation can be linked to greater engagement in learning: "increased school attendance, improved work habits and behavior and positive attitudes toward school, as well as better emotional adjustment, positive relationships with peers and adults, and a greater sense of belonging in the community."

Our former Governor, James McGreevey supported the benefits of after-school programs as well. In his January 2004 address to the New Jersey State Legislature, Governor McGreevey announced a new statewide initiative that would keep some New Jersey elementary schools open for after-school programs run by community organizations during the 2004-05 school year.

The success of Governor McGreevey's plan took 20,000 New Jersey school students off the streets between the afternoon hours of three and six o'clock, and placed them in productive after-school activities.


Arts Program

Scout leader craft instruction

At present, as part of CASP there are two main components of the Cedar Hill CDC Arts Program: daily activities involving drawing, coloring and painting and the performing arts involving singing, instrumental performances and our annual Christmas concert, talent and fashion shows. In the near future we will begin very basic computer graphics activities for producing computer art.

As seen on the left photo, with a scout leader showing students how to make clay ornaments, arts and crafts foster creativity, a sense of accomplishment, are a source of pride and provide a relaxing period from the student's more hectic school day. The performing arts build confidence in front of groups, are a major source of pride and accomplishment and build teamwork and social skills which will later prove invaluable in the workplace. The martial arts, as practised in our weekly Taekwondo classes, build respect, discipline and provide significant physical conditioning.

Girl Scout Program

photo of girl scout troop leaders photo of girl scout troop pledging allegience photo of girl scouts working on crafts photo of girl scout badge

In the top-left photo above, Girl Scout Field Coordinator Anna Ho is on the left and Assistant Coordinator Maria Gonzales is on the right. In the top-middle-left photo, Maria is leading the scout pledge by our girls, in the top-middle-right photo our girls are busy making hand drawn badges in their arts and crafts, and in the top-right photo is one of the hand-made badges.

We were delighted this year to be able to offer our girls their first opportunity to be introduced to the activities, events and programs of the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey. The program takes place at our Cedar Hill facility.

Community Summer Program

summer camp funRecognizing that the need for affordable, quality child care is even greater during summer months, the CDC launched its Community Summer Program in 2002. The summer program, coordinated with the Boonton Parks and Recreational Department and School District, provides low-cost, all-day care for children from low-income families in the Boonton community. The six week summer program provides a secure, enriching experience for children. During its first summer, 38 children took part in the activities.

The summer program operates from seven-thirty in the morning to six-thirty in the evening so that parents are able to drop off and pick up their children as their work schedules require. Working in conjunction with the Town of Boonton's summer program, the CDC summer program is held at the local public school where we are able to use all of their available facilities. Summer program activities include indoor and outdoor play sessions, arts and crafts projects, supervised computer access and training and many special activities as seen in the photo on the left "dunking the staff" on Water Day, and in a video seen by selecting with the hand icon: Videos and then "Summer Camp Fun" in the Video and Image Gallery.


Martial Arts Training

Thanks to his generous volunteering of his time and energy every Monday afternoon, Andrew Jennings provides expert instruction in the martial art of Taekwondo for two, large classes of our students at the Boonton Recreation Center, courtesy of Boonton Parks and Recreation.

The photograph, below-right with Mr. Jennings on the left, is from a press release last year which covered a Taekwondo demonstration at the CDC eliciting tremendous interest from so many of our students who now attend Mr. Jenning's classes.

For those viewers unfamiliar with martial arts instruction, of equal importance to mastering the art of self defense, is acquiring throughout the lessons: respect, self discipline, courtesy, self confidence and significant physical and mental conditioning. The 11-1/2 minute video excerpt on the left is from Mr. Jenning's first class of the 2009-2010 school year. This is Mr. Jennings second year of volunteer teaching at the CDC.

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Andrew Jennings Photo

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