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Oct 4, 2017 10:19 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sag Harbor School Board Views New After-School Program

Michael Guinan, assistant principal of Pierson High School, and Brittany Carriero, assistant principal of Pierson Middle School, discussing plans for a new afterschool program at Pierson Middle/High School. JON WINKLER
Oct 4, 2017 10:19 AM

Pierson Middle/High School could be on the verge of having a new after-school program.

At a Sag Harbor School Board meeting on Monday, the middle school’s assistant principal, Brittany Carriero, spoke about plans to start a program called Pierson After School, or PAS. It would be a collaborative effort with HUGS Inc. of Westhampton Beach, which would provide two staff members to monitor after-school activities on Mondays to Thursdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

Ms. Carriero explained that students would be able to voluntarily sign in and out to participate in the program, but that once they signed out, they would have to leave the school building so that staffers could keep track of which kids were still in the building.

According to Ms. Carriero, this had been a problem with Pierson’s Youth Resource Center, also known as YARD (for Youth Advocacy and Resource Development), the school’s previous after-school program, whose director, Deborah Skinner, retired at the end of last school year.

“[HUGS, Inc. representatives] explained to me that when a kid goes to the bathroom, that is the only time that they are allowed by themselves,” Ms. Carriero said. “Otherwise when they’re with a group they need to be with an adult.”

She went on to explain that the program would be held in the cafeteria, which could be transformed to create a “lounge-like atmosphere” with foosball, Ping-Pong tables and couches. There would also be an opportunity to play sports outside, and other areas in the school might also be used for activities. Kids who participate in sports teams or clubs would also be able to visit PAS if they were looking for a way to spend time before practice or before their parents picked them up.

A cost of $19,400 to sustain the program for the first year would include paying staff $240 per week for working 12 hours each week, along with $5,000 to buy supplies including lounge equipment and balls for sports. If the program is successful in its first year and warrants being continued, Ms. Carriero said, it would cost $18,030 it second year, with only $750 required to refresh the supplies.

While board members seemed to have few problems with the program, there had been a bit of concern before Ms. Carriero’s presentation from two members of the audience: David Giraldo and Ryan Fleming, both 11-year-old seventh graders, who spoke about the importance of YARD to them and even offered to launch a petition to save YARD.

“When I was in sixth grade I was a bit alone and I felt like I had no one around me,” Ryan said. “Then I heard about the YARD program and I went and then I got a lot of friends.”

“In my health class, we’ve been learning about this healthy triangle that’s filled with mental health, social health and physical health,” David said. “I think that YARD really helps with our social health. I play soccer a lot, but sometimes my practices get either canceled or something else happens and I have nowhere else to go. I have to wait in the lobby for my mom because she takes awhile at work.

“So I really like YARD because I have a lot of things to do over there and have a lot of fun over there,” David continued. “So even though people have sports, they won’t have it every day.”

When they heard the proposal for the PAS, David asked if snacks would be provided and Ryan asked if balls for outdoor sports would be provided, with Ms. Carriero replying that both would be covered by the supplies budget.

Ms. Carriero said that the decision to implement PAS is awaiting approval from the school board at its next meeting on October 23.

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