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School's out, fun still in

Posted: January 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Five-year-old Ethan Venturo holds up a Christmas ornament he made during a day at the center. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Five-year-old Ethan Venturo held his art project up proudly. 

“Look, Rebecca!” he said as he waved a paper penguin-shaped Christmas ornament.

Ethan was a withdrawn child when he first starting coming to the Newhall Community Center’s winter break drop-in program, said Rebecca Solorzano, a camp counselor at the center.

“He’s seeing that we could be there for him ,too, not just his grandma,” she said. “He’s opening up.”

The center has kept its doors open for winter break drop-ins since the center started in 1994.

“It’s like an after-school program,” said Yolanda Calderon, coordinator for the after-school and summer program.“Some days (the kids) do arts and crafts; some days they do dancing or an athletic competition.”

A team of eight counselors in their late teens and early 20s look after the kids, averaging about 40 kids a day, depending on the day.

Seventeen-year-old Solorzano has worked at the community center for four years and started gaining volunteer and counseling experience when she was in grade school.

“I like when the kids finally learn something new. Their parents have busy work schedules,” she said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as learning how to tie their shoes or blow their nose.”

The center stays open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for three weeks before school opens again for the spring semester and is free of charge to anyone. This year, the center will welcome drop-ins until Jan. 11.



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