When Class Lets Out, School Isn't Over


The laughter and noise of children rings down the halls of Payson Elementary School after the bell rings at 2:30 p.m.

But, on Mondays through Thursdays, for approximately 170 PES students, the day is not over. The Panther Pride after-school program has begun.


Payson Elementary students in the Panther Pride after-school program kneel around a mock volcano they built in the playground sand.

Through the program, gardeners have their chance to make things grow, science explorers get to experiment and students who want a bit more math help are able to get it.

"We don't want the children to have to choose between something fun and something academic," said resource teacher Pat Heizer. She coordinates the program so that math workshops run on different days than knitting or computer games.

Fifth-grade friends, Taylor Mansoor, Bailey Patterson and Micaela Manchester, have stayed to scrapbook with their friends in teacher Mary Ann Runzo's class.

"Scrapbooking is fun," Mansoor said. She has just finished a special birthday page for her godbrother.

Each week, Runzo alternates free scrapbooking with a taught technique, such as learning what colors go together.

When Mansoor accidentally crumpled a prettily printed paper, it turned out to be a lesson in disguise.

Runzo showed the class how crumpled, then flattened paper can actually give a different look to the photo glued on top of it.

"I like doing three-dimensional pages," said fifth grader, Dakota Martin.

"I like doing lots of pages with stickers," said fifth grader, Krissy Johnson.

Across the hall, there are students in the computer lab playing games or studying to better their math skills.

Around the corner in another room, teachers Roger Rohrbach and Dave Leonard share their ham radio hobby with a group of students.

"Finding another ham radio operator is kind of like fishing," Rohrbach said. "You never know who you will get on the other end of the line."

We have talked to people in Ohio, Wyoming, Indiana, Boston and Florida, the students said.

They said they liked talking to other people and a few are considering taking the licensing test so they can be ham radio operators at home.

Further down the hall, "Historical Hysteria" is taking place in Kathy Crane's drama class.

The third, fourth and fifth grade students each picked a historic figure, such as Benjamin Franklin, and are making puppets based on that character, in preparation for a show in May.

Although Crane has written the middle of the play, the students are writing the beginning and ending.

"And they each have to act as an emcee and tell what they learned from their character at the end," she said.

Elsewhere, students kneel around mock volcanoes they built in the playground sand.

They learned that "magma" is what molten rock is called inside the earth, and that "lava" is the term for molten rock when it spews out of the mouth of a volcano.

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