By Celine Klosterman
OTTUMWA — Kristi Glosser’s daughters and Nicole Banner’s son aren’t happy if their moms pick them up early from the new after-school program at Seton Catholic School.
“They just have so much fun,” Glosser said of her twin 6-year-olds, Autumn and Gracie. “The staff there is amazing. I think the kids feel like it’s an extension of their family.”
The children are among 22 preK-5 students enrolled in after-school care this fall, following a trial run of the program that Seton launched for about eight students last spring.
“We had noticed that there were a lot of kids with nowhere to go at the end of the day,” Principal Julie Gentz said. “Parents were struggling to find a place for their child to stay while they were still at work and school was out. The public school has a program called Part-Time Youth Care (PTYC), and we had some students going there.”
So Seton, which has 80 preschoolers and 60 K-5 students, hired two associates and a director for its own after-school care. The program received a $20,000 grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation. Several chain retail stores and parents donated money, too. The program, open until 6 p.m. weekdays, costs about $6.50 per day.
“All but one of our students who went to PTYC last year now go to our after-school program,” Gentz said.
“Being a kid in school can be hard work, and coming to after-school care from those long days of leaning and social interaction can be overwhelming,” said Francesca Djordjevich, director of Seton’s program. “So we provide an atmosphere where kids can have old-fashioned play time, have quiet time, and learn through arts and games to keep their brains moving.”
Banner, a member of St. Patrick Church in Ottumwa, said Seton’s offerings are more comprehensive and engaging than what her 5-year-old son, Colton, encountered in a daycare setting last year. “It’s like a night and day difference. Before, it was a chore to get him out of bed and ready to go in the morning. Now, as soon as I turn that light on, he’s ready to go.
“He gets mad if I pick him up early,” she added with a laugh.
Glosser appreciates that the program sets aside time for students to do homework. After arriving home on weekdays last year, the family had little energy to tackle school assignments, she said. In after-school care, staffers can help students complete their work before the children leave.
The program “has been so positive,” she said.
For more information, call Seton at (641) 682-8826.