WILKES-BARRE — An after-school program has received state recognition for its work with youngsters.
The Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center supports students ages 5 through 14, hosting 130 kids in four rooms, including a gym and aquatic center.
The program is open year-round, and before school as well.
The site, 36 S. Washington St., was recently awarded a third star in four-star rankings put out by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS program. It was the culmination of a two-year effort.
Executive Director Mark Soprano said the CYC is the biggest three-star facility in Luzerne County. The program services students across Luzerne but will transport children from Wilkes-Barre Area, Hanover Township and Wyoming Valley West.
According to Jennifer Deemer of the United Way, the CYC is assessed annually based on goals set at the beginning of the school year.
“They’re (students) not just recreating, they’re actually being tutored … and receiving an education,” she said. “We want children engaged during those hours when they are out of school but not yet at home.”
The STARS program is focused on helping improve the quality of early education through standards, training and professional development, assistance, resources and support.
Soprano said the kids have been wonderful during the work it took to get from two stars to three.
“The educational component has increased,” Soprano explained.
“Our staff is more qualified … and more about the structure of the program.”
Children like Princess Love and Ao-Camir Terry come from school, eat a snack and then do homework.
Guinivere McCurdy, 6, loves to build and play with blocks. She also likes to read. Thanks to the program, she can do it among friends.
“I like Dr. Seuss books,” McCurdy said.
Terry, 8, said he has fun when he comes to the program and enjoys everything it has to offer.
“I like building,” he said, pointing to wooden blocks.
Because the CYC achieved the third-star rating, the United Way gave it a $38,256 grant. Deemer said the center’s work helps with the United Way’s mission of serving children in the community.
The program, Deemer said, “fills the gap” for students who have no place to go after school.