Pumpkins promote pleasurable pursuits at Shaver ‘Lights-on Night’

Want to see a lot of cute little pumpkins? Learn why pumpkins were the theme of the after-school effort …

Pumpkins and more pumpkins! Kids drew faces and made crafts using more than 100 mini-pumpkins at the Shaver SUN School event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When we were invited to “Pumpkin Lights-on Night” at Shaver Elementary School in Parkrose a few days ago, we just had to check it out.

“Welcome to our event,” said Helen Vank, as she dished up Burgerville hamburgers. “This is our annual Pumpkin Lights-on Night. It is part of the national Lights-on day, to bring awareness to after school programs. We’re inviting people in the school, and letting them know we have programs here.”

The idea is, Vank told us, is to help the community better understand the need for – and benefits available from – after-school programs.

Stephanie Baker, director of the Shaver Boys and Girls Club, and Helen Vank, Shaver SUN School coordinator, serve up the affordable $2 dinners to kids and their families.

“I run the SUN school program, funded thought the 21 Century Grant,” Vank explained. “At this event, we have both SUN School and Shaver Boys & Girls clubs staff here. Volunteers from the Shaver Parent/Faculty Association (SPFA) are collecting the money for the hamburger dinners donated by Burgerville; SUN provided the drinks and chips. All of the money goes back to SPFA, to help fund programs like field trips”

At this family event, kids were provided free mini-pumpkins kids for decorating. The after-school program staff members ran easy-to-win carnival games. And, a lot of kids (and parents) came in costume.

The Cervantes family came dressed in costume – ready for a good time.

Serves 200 children
Vank mentioned that their SUN School has over 200 kids registered, and sees a daily average of 125 children at their after-school activities.

“Our SUN School is important,” Vank explained, “because 83% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunches; we’re a Title 1 school. We offer things like hip-hop class, reading classes, and other activities. We offer reading classes, to help get kids reading at grade level. The art and recreation activities are important because most of our students can’t afford to pay for these kind of classes.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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