From learning ABC’s to creating artwork, the North Broad Youth Center has begun its free after-school program for elementary school students dubbed the Rising Stars program.

Just a week into the 2019-2020 school year and things have been going really well, Executive Director Terri Mayes said. “The kids have been showing up which means they want to be at the center.”

The students split up every day into age groups with the older kids staying up front and the younger students doing activities in their room towards the back. Pre-K through first-grade students spent Thursday evening studying letters, with the younger ones playing with stamps and the first-graders practicing writing.

The first-graders grabbed giant foam letters and wrote down as many words as they could that started with the letter they had chosen.

Grades second through fifth did works of art in the main room towards the front of the building.

Mayes said that since the older kids don’t have a lot of homework yet their after school time is more laid back.

This school year, the center will also be a teaching dinner etiquette class and will host a family dinner night where the kids can show off their new skills to parents. Berry Bonner Scholar students will be assisting with staffing the center, along with YMCA volunteers.

There will also be Berry psychology majors volunteering to help with free counseling for students and parents, Mayes added.

There will be a music program, where the kids can make their own beats, along with a Kindermusik program for the younger students, she said. The back rooms of the upstairs will be turned into an arts and crafts room.

The center will be open every Monday through Friday that school is in session, with hours from 3 to 6 p.m. The center takes all students from pre-K through fifth-grade and allows sixth-graders to act as mentors.