Sunday, October 26, 2014

• Lights On Afterschool

There is an after school program at Wildomar Elementary called THINK Together. This week there was an assembly for parents called Lights On Afterschool to share what the program has been up to and what it's about.

In attendance was Melissa Melendez of the California State Assembly, representing the 67th district. She spoke to the kids for about ten minutes about what a member of the assembly does.

She spoke about Wildomar Elementary's Lights On Afterschool event and after school program THINK Together, that she had been a latchkey kid and what that was like, and she then took some questions from the students.

"Is it fun to make laws?"
You could tell she was trying to put a good face on the typical political sausage making that goes on in Sacramento.

"What are your children's names?"
Angelo, Paulo, Sophia, Rocco, Carlo...
(looks like someone is Italian).

"Do you work a lot?"
Which was greeted by chuckles from the audience as she said, "Yes, yes I do," with a wry grin, as she then elaborated. She then asked if the parents had any questions, and there weren't any. It was my first time to hear her in person and she really made a good impression.

There is no point for more details about her in this blog.
This isn't about her, it's about THINK Together at Wildomar Elementary.
Students from Wildomar Elementary's THINK Together program performing a song.
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I had a conversation with April Watkins, one of the coordinators of the program at Wildomar Elementary, about the after school program.

 WR:  Tell me about THINK Together.
 AW:  THINK Together is a non profit organization that provides an extended learning day to students at no cost.

 WR:  How long has THINK Together been at Wildomar Elementary?
 AW:  I've been here for three years, and I believe it started at Wildomar Elementary back in 2009.

 WR:  What about volunteer opportunities?
 AW:  We have several volunteer opportunities ranging from sitting down and reading books with the kids; to helping with homework; coaching soccer; coaching basketball. Volunteers on field trips are big need. We have to keep a 7 to 1 ratio on field trips, and I would love more parent volunteers to go on field trips with us.

 WR:  What are the requirements for volunteers?
 AW:  Volunteers go through a finger printing process through THINK Together. They fill out an application online at . The finger printing is done at no cost to the volunteer. It's a live scan fingerprint like also used at the school district. A TB Test is also required. After that, they go through a volunteer orientation

 WR:  What about non parent volunteers?
 AW:   We really haven't had any non parent volunteers, except when the Rotary Club volunteered to help us go on a field trip. Some of the other THINK Togethers [at other schools] have non parents helping coach teams. In a THINK Together situation it wouldn't be much of a concern because a volunteer is never allowed to be left alone with kids, a paid staff member always has to be there —if there is a volunteer or not.

 WR:  What is Lights On Afterschool?
 AW:  Lights On After School is the national day to raise awareness for after school programs, and the funding that's required to run them. Whether it be Boys&Girls Club, THINK Together or any other organization that provides after school programs. 

 WR:  Who do potential volunteers contact to help out?
 AW:  Volunteers go to and fill in the application. Once that's done, our volunteer coordinator contacts them and helps them through the rest of the steps. It's pretty easy. 

 WR:  How many students are in THINK Together at Wildomar Elementary?
 AW:  We have 110 students, and the grant only funds us for 84. The school district has given us extra funding for an extra staff member so we can accommodate a full extra class. There are 40 students on a waiting list, and we don't have much turnover during the year.

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Another bit of entertainment by the students of  Wildomar Elementary's THINK Together program was a drum and jump rope demonstration. Seeing such things almost allows me to remember what it was like to be in elementary school.

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We don't always have the answers to all our problems but we should know from right and wrong.


  1. Joseph - Good article about a valuable program. It would have been nice had the coordinator mentioned this program is also available at David A. Brown Middle School and William Collier Elementary School, one of the 2010 Distinguished Elementary Schools in the state. For those interested in more information they can go to
    Kenny Mayes

  2. Also at Elsinore Middle and run by Doug Fulkerson. I will put out there that at EMS he is a presence throughout the day not just at the end. He is around to help students, staff and teachers as needed. I am very happy with the program


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