YORK — York Public Schools is part of a grant-funded program called Beyond School Bells. This program provides activities for elementary and middle school students on the days that there is no school.
According to Amy Vernon from York High School, Beyond School Bells is a statewide public-private partnership that supports sustainable, high-quality, school-community collaborations that provide youth with what they need to be successful in school and in life. Beyond School Bells has chosen York Public School after school program as a collaborative partner. As a partner they help fund after school, out of school, and summer activities for students eighth grade and below.
Lots of extracurricular activities take place during these afterschool days, which has included anything from field trips to fun activities in the school and community center.
There was no school on Feb. 9, so the schools hosted a fun and educational day for students as part of their Beyond School Bells program. Partners for these activities included Upper Big Blue NRD, Nebraska Public Power District, the Kilmore Memorial Library, and York Parks and Rec.
In the morning, the students participated in Rec and Read and got to go swimming at the community center.
The afternoon was filled with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities.
York Elementary School’s Carol Baker did activities involving static electricity with students. They were challenged to move aluminum cans using a balloon and had fun getting the balloon to stick to their clothing.
Angie Johnson, the after school coordinator for the YMS All-Star program, helped students make light-up Valentines using a LED light bulb. After coloring their cards, Johnson poked holes in them so that students could attach their lights, which were then taped to a battery on the back of the card.
“I want students to have fun while they’re learning. Sometimes they don’t even realize how much they’re learning when they’re having fun,” said Johnson, commenting on her experiences helping with this program.
Upper Big Blue NDR visited YES to teach students about natural resources using Scott Snell’s giant Nebraska-shaped game called Operation Conservation. Students pulled items from the game and had to use a chart to find out which resource the object was and what that object does for the environment.
Snell does a lot of traveling to talk about Upper Big Blue NDR, and while visiting a conference he came up with the idea for the game. He wanted to do something 3-D and hands on for students to learn. Thus far, the game has traveled over 12,000 miles. The game is free of cost to schools because Snell really didn’t want use of his game to be a cost issue with schools.
Chad Johnson from NPPD also came by to do demonstrations involving virtual reality, robots and electricity. He reported that he loves journeying to schools all over the state to educate students about electricity and engineering. Students had a blast driving the robots around the cafeteria, creating electricity, and standing on top of a windmill wearing the VR headset.
The Beyond School Bells afterschool program is a great way for students to spend their time when there isn’t school. The program also offers some relief to parents who have a hard time finding childcare on these days.
There will be more Beyond School Bells activities coming up in the future, and the sponsors who help organize are excited to see what they can come up with for the students next time.