Studying marine life
Studying marine life
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After school and summer and fitness camps were implemented as a non-profit 501c3 by Carol Victoria Wright, founder and leader of the after school program for students and President of the Graham Kapowsin Community Council.

They have been around since 2004. Victoria Wright started them in the community because she wanted to bring the community together and get rid of meth labs. Victoria Wright stated: “The classes were to bring community together and link people in these positive programs with these unsavory elements in our neighborhood.”

8 elementary schools have the Graham Kapowsin Community Council after school program for kids: North Star, Shining Mountain, Graham Elementary, Kapowsin Elementary, Centennial Elementary, Rocky Ridge Elementary, Nelson Elementary, and Frederickson Elementary.
Kindergarten through 14 year olds are for the summer camps that last 8 weeks and are 3 days a week on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for 5 hours a day and start after the 4th of July. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are implemented into the after school programs year round and in the summer camps.

Fall, winter, and spring kindergarten through 5th graders have the after school program October through May and STEM does not take place in September and June, but July and August as mentioned above. The after school program fall, winter, and spring take place for two hours from 3 pm to 5 pm. The elementary schools follow the same program and schedule.

The children have a children’s garden and on some days after school, the students are taken there or to the salmon project where they can work on streams and do water quality testing. “Sometimes we’ll meet in a portable area to do chemistry projects.” The farm the kids go to is on 70th and is called Bud and Shrubs Farm and the farmer is Pethick Victoria Wright mentioned how he volunteered by giving a 30 by 30 feet spot for the kids and helped them with an elk fence.

Victoria Wright had shared how the salmon project is on the North Fork of Muck Creek and “we can work on salmon projects, do water quality testing, plant trees so there’ll be more shade for the salmon, pull weeds, etc. Kids aren’t always happy to pull weeds, but we make it fun for them.”

Victoria Wright had also shared how during the after school program students are given a healthy snack after they wash their hands before they do one of the many projects mentioned above. She mentioned how there was an “Ecosystem Explorer” which is for children in the youth program for the STEM. The Ecosystem Explorer is about learning about our environment, biology, geology, and each week depending on the camp the students learn about a different habitat, for example in October they spend time learning about trees and in November they learn about mountains, volcanoes, and glaciers.

In the summer, the camps are from 9 am to 2 pm and 5 hours a day and some of the things the students have done have included: seeing where the water comes from Mt. Rainier and hike in the mountains, visit the salt water on Ruston Way in old Town Tacoma, Nisqually Delta is where the salt water merges with the fresh water, Victoria Wright received free tickets to the Pierce County Fair and took the students there this past summer, “That was fun” Victoria Wright said. The Tacoma Farmer’s Market the students have gone to and their focus is on food and honey. They are able to ride the trolley downtown Tacoma as well as visited the fish hatchery in downtown Puyallup.

Students have also gone to the beach to look at critters and talk about the different kinds of shells, swim, and learn about the habitat. “It’s a pretty fabulous summer for the kids. Ruston Way’s Beach is good and has sand where the tide comes and goes and they [the kids] just love it,” Victoria Wright commented.

Victoria Wright shared, “In the past, it’s been 8-10 kids per year and it’s tuition based $5 per hour class. We do have scholarships, discounts, and come up with ways to barter with parents to barter with us and bring kids who will benefit from it who don’t have the money.”

Victoria Wright explained how her program for the kids is a non-profit 501c3 and gives $5 per hour deep cuts and discounts, including discounts for military to get the kids involved so that money doesn’t have to be the barrier. When parents pay the tuition, 100% of it goes to the non-profit. When Victoria Wright writes grants, she makes scholarships when she’s granted by the grants.

Victoria Wright’s latest update with the program has been picking up the kids with the van and that she’s been able to fund and is also working in collaboration on a garden project. “I’m excited about that,” Victoria Wright commented. Victoria Wright explained, “Ryan Misley’s with the Pierce County Conversation District is going to be our contact person for working with the county which will be working with growing healthy food the science of that.”

Victoria Wright plans to hire another person to assist her with this program. “It’d be nice to have somebody who has that kind of passion and take over the program as I’d love to see it become sustainable with new young blood,” Victoria Wright expressed. She’s looking for potential part time future teachers.

For more information about this program, please call Carol Victoria Wright at: 253-279-3071 or visit: g-kcc.org.

“We don’t let them [the kids] be a couch potato after school. Parents love it because kids are kept active,” Victoria Wright concluded.