HCA launches after school program for teens

HCA launches after school program for teens

Part of last year’s Holmes Center for the Arts After School Program saw members from Mullet Cabinet come in to teach youth how to build shelves. The program has begun for the 2023-24 school year.


While many people’s minds might immediately go to dancing, singing and art forms when they hear the words Holmes Center for the Arts, the organization has become much more than that, and with the start of its after-school program, it is showcasing just how wide-ranging the opportunities are when young people invest themselves in the HCA.

Holmes Center for the Arts’ after-school program for teens in partnership with NextGen is now back in session, and there are ample opportunities in numerous fields.

Not only are classes in the regular arts available, but this program also provides a chance for students to get help with homework, learn some valuable life skills and much more.

“We’ve seen it grow in terms of what we can offer to the students and in terms of the number of participating students,” said Holley Johnson, HCA director. “Last year we opened in March and saw it grow, and it was an exceptional experience for the students who really invested themselves in coming often. We learned a lot and partnering with NextGen and their mentoring program was great.”

Johnson said the push to present more job skill-related classes was something that the entire group was hoping to do coming off of last year’s successful program.

She said basic life skills like learning to change a tire and other everyday skills that come in handy will be taught. Last year staff from Mullet Cabinet came in to teach the kids how to build shelves.

“They came in with this big trailer with all of their equipment and went through the process for five weeks every Thursday, and it was a wonderful experience,” Johnson said.

One of the benefits was the way the Mullet Cabinet crew connected with and encouraged the teens. She said they really made a connection with the kids, which spilled into excitement for the students to perhaps pursue learning more about woodworking as a profession.

While the staff at HCA has some ideas as to the types of areas they’d like to offer, Johnson said they will also let the youth have some input as to what will be available.

“We want to do things that interest them,” Johnson said. “We will talk to them and listen to their ideas. Usually, there are kids who aren’t as interested in the arts but are passionate about something else that is life skills related. We want to hear their ideas.”

The after-school program is designed for youth from middle school to high school ages.

Transportation is provided on Thursdays after school to the arts center, where students can work on homework with or without tutors, hang out with friends and mentors, play games, participate in a Bible study and attend free art or job skills classes until 6 p.m.

Some of the classes offered include woodworking, painting, drawing, upcycling, mechanics, 3D printing and more.

Another positive influence on the teens comes from experiencing the caring guidance of adults. Johnson said their staff, volunteers and the crew from Next Gen provided terrific leadership and set a strong example for the teens.

“Seeing that adult interaction and guidance on a regular basis created a consistent interaction with the kids, and I think it’s important for them to realize that there are adults in the community who care about them and want to help them grow,” Johnson said. “That’s an underlying benefit of the program, and even if kids come every week or whenever they can, it can be a growing experience.”

The program is free thanks to a grant from the United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties. Johnson said while registration isn’t necessary to begin the program, students will be asked to fill out a registration form and get a signature from their parents to participate if they are under 18 years old. She said they usually hand out those registration forms on a student’s first visit.

For more information or to register, call Holmes Center for the Arts at 330-473-2879 or email them at info@holmescenterforthearts.org.

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