Samantha Sanchez, Lindsey Chavarria and Rolando Chavarria completed several lessons on the computer about history. MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

City program still has openings

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

For Tripp Valadez, the summer could have been spent playing at home or watching TV, but instead, the active 11 year old is out doing what he loves best, swimming and playing with computers.

"I'm having more fun this summer than last year," Valadez said.

He, along with 13 other students, are part of the Latchkey Program offered by the Alice ReCenter.

The program instructs students in various activities throughout the summer, such as swimming, sports and health and safety.

Parents can choose to send their child for half a day or for the entire day. The program is from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

This summer has also proved to be worthwhile for the volunteers who supervise the students.

April Martinez is an education major at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. She sees her time with the children as great practice for her future profession, and she has noticed some distinctions when it comes to the difference between young boys and girls.

"I want to be a kindergarten teacher," Martinez said. "I've noticed that most of the time the kids are OK, but sometimes they get really hyper, especially the boys. They always want to wrestle and jump on each other."

She said the children can often be a handful, but Martinez said she enjoys the time spent with the children, and that she's learned a lot just in the first few weeks.

"They always want to do whatever they want," she said.

Besides sports and outdoor activities, Martinez and other volunteers supervise arts and crafts sessions in the afternoon, and the children can watch movies and run through educational lessons and games on the computers.

The program will continue through August, and openings are still available for interested parents. The cost is $110 per week for the first child and $75 per sibling.

In the next two weeks, students will have lessons in sports training; and in July, they'll learn about health and safety first hand, with visits from several city and county guests, such as the Alice Police Department, Alice Fire Department and Jim Wells County Health and Safety Office.

Samantha Sanchez, 7, said she loves everything about the program.

"I love everything, I like to swim. I'm a good swimmer," she said. "I would be at home now if I wasn't here. My parents were busy working and they wanted me to come here and have fun."