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After-school program celebrates 25 years

Mitchell Eagles club was founded in 1983 to help working parents.

Posted: March 18, 2008 2:33 a.m.
Updated: May 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
It started with about four children who were cared for by two women after school at Mitchell Elementary School in Canyon Country.

Now, 25 years later, more than 100 children are being cared for by those same two women. And a staff of helpers.

When they each had sons in kindergarten at Mitchell Elementary School, Barbara Sivley and Beverly Taylor saw a need for after-school child care, and together they came up with an idea to fill that need.

After getting approval from the Sulphur Springs Union Elementary School District, the two young moms founded the Mitchell Eagles After-school Club in 1983.

"We were both attending college and working, and we thought the school needed something for the kids after school," Sivley said. "Now our kids are all grown up, but we're still here."

The club hosted an anniversary celebration on Friday, with all the kids wearing birthday hats that they made themselves and club counselors serving birthday cake and ice cream. Mitchell sixth-grader Sarah Suwanaksorn has been coming to the club after school since her family moved to Canyon Country when she was in second grade.

"Both of my parents work, so if I didn't come here, I'd probably have to, like, have a baby-sitter," Sarah said. "Here I get to hang out with my friends."

Sarah's mom is also glad the school has an after-school club.

"I don't have to worry about my child after school," Tess Suwanaksorn said. "That's one of the reasons we moved here; we wanted to have a school nearby with an after-school club."

Sivley and Taylor started the club 25 years ago to help working parents, and Sivley said the need is even greater today than it was then.

"Both parents have to work in a household these days to live, and they need child care," Sivley said.

Over the years the club has expanded in to a new building with five classrooms and has incorporated a Summer Fun Club, open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during summers. It now also serves students from Sulphur Springs Elementary School, while students from any elementary school are welcome to participate in the summer program.

The kids enjoy outdoor games, arts and crafts and field trips so much that many return as counselors when they get older, Sivley said.

Canyon High School senior Amber Cobb, 17, did just that.

"I love it here - that's why I came back. I remember the arts and crafts and the field trips in the summer and all the games we used to play," said Amber, who attended the club from kindergarten through sixth grade. "Going on field trips with all my friends was my favorite thing to do, and I'm still friends with all those kids who went here with me."

Sivley and Taylor try to make the club an extra home for the kids, someplace where they feel comfortable and safe, Sivley said. They find it hard to believe that 25 years have gone by.

"It doesn't seem like that long for us because we both love what we do," Sivley said.

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