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Not for Profit: Beacon Schools

Oct. 5, 2006 — In an effort to keep children safe and off the streets, the Virgin Islands adopted a popular after-school program from New York City and began Beacon Schools of the V.I., a program now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The program began in December 1996 to address the growing problem of latch-key children in the territory. Beacon offers a place for working parents to feel their children are safe and have completed their school requirements. According to Estelle McIntosh, coordinator of the Claude O. Markoe Beacon site, founders "wanted to provide a place to prevent kids from getting into trouble with drugs and the like."
Beacon is a non-profit organization led by a board of trustees. Its mission to provide safe havens for young people and their families has drawn many to the organization. In its first year, Beacon had a total of 634 members; by the second year, attendance almost quadrupled to 2478 members.
The program offers a wide range of activities for children from age six through high school. All participants receive homework assistance for their grade level. After completing homework, children may enjoy activities like art, panting, drawing, board games, chess, basketball and other activities. They can even learn how to design their own T-shirts.
The program begins at 3 p.m. and continues until 7 p.m. Beacon also accepts adults and offers computer training and adult aerobics.
Currently Beacon seeks a teacher who can work with the hearing-impaired community. The program also assists residents for whom English is their second language. Beacon also provides parenting workshops, conflict resolution, counseling, adult literacy, drug and teen-pregnancy-prevention services.
Beacon schools can be found on all three islands, with two locations on St. Croix: Markoe and Elena Christian Jr. High School. Enrollment costs $10 per semester. For more information on Beacon Schools, call 777-9300.
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