Police chief visits after-school program

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  • Newton Police Chief Mike Richards speaks to students enrolled in the Project Launch Newton after school program.

— Newton Police Chief Mike Richards recently offered students enrolled in the Project Launch Newton after-school program the benefits of his expertise as a municipal police officer.

The children learned all about the day-to-day tasks involved in law enforcement. The decorated police officer even lent a hand in judging the winners of a t-shirt design contest among the students. The shirts will be manufactured and presented to those students who have achieved attendance milestones, and also offered to those third grade students at the Merriam Avenue Elementary School who are considering enrolling in the after school program during the next school year.

Winning student designers included Merriam Avenue students Alexa Dodd, Sarah King and Ella Molkenthin and Halsted Middle School student Jaheim Shannon.

"I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with kids about police work and discuss ways to stay safe,” Richards said. “Everyone had great questions. Their enthusiasm and curiosity made it fun too. The Police Department fully supports Project Launch and our schools in Newton."

The Project Launch Newton after-school enrichment program is offered free of charge at both the Merriam Avenue School and the Halsted Middle School.

Currently, more than 160 students are enrolled.

Children receive homework help and a healthy snack, and then participate in a variety of activities centered on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) themes. Physical activities and other topics are incorporated into the curriculum. This semester the students will create their own STEM City, complete with government and other institutions, with the use of the renowned MicroSociety curriculum. Volunteers from the community are invited to speak to the students each week about their careers in order to give the children access to real-world experience.

“The Project Launch Newton program has been fortunate to host community leaders from a variety of career paths as part of our volunteer mentor program,” said Project Launch Newton Program Administrator Patrice Green. “We are grateful to Newton Police Chief Mike Richards and to all of the members of our community who have taken time out of their busy schedules to share their expertise with our students.”

Project Launch Newton will run through the end of the 2014 school year. An abbreviated version of the program will also be offered during the summer. The program is free to students enrolled in grades fourth through eight in the Newton school district.

Project Launch Newton is funded with federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title IV, Part B, 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grant funds through a grant agreement with the New Jersey Department of Education.

For information about the after school enrichment program, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500, or visit the program’s website, www.projectlaunchnewton.org.

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