Waterville teens offered fun and games, as well as the opportunity to find work

WATERVILLE – Hasan Al-Jorani and Matt Jernigan took advantage of the crisp, fresh air Friday to exercise and socialize outside of Waterville High School.

They played cornhole – throwing bags with kernels of corn into holes cut in raised wooden platforms – spun a wheel on a large version of the game Sorry! and planned to go to the Alfond Youth & Community Center after school.

“I went there once with a friend,” Jernigan said. “The free membership allows you to use the gym and pool and they have classes to help you with your homework.”

Al-Jorani, 13, and Jernigan, 14, both freshmen, attended one of the programs offered as part of a partnership between the school, the Alfond Center and the Jobs for Maine Graduates program on Friday. , aiming to offer students activities and possibilities of internship or employment. Employees of the Alfond center go to the secondary school every Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., for four lunch breaks, organize games on the lawn and invite the students to play after eating.

Hasan Al-Jorani, 13, plays a Friday lunchtime cornhole game at Waterville High School as part of a program to increase after-school offerings for teens while raising awareness of internships and employment opportunities. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentry

The Alfond center also allows students to access programs at the center itself after school, including basketball and a weekly girls’ group, according to high school principal Brian Laramee. The center plans to offer afternoon fitness classes and host monthly movie nights for students, he said. The center works with community partners and the school to set up internships or place students in jobs, and has opened its doors to the school’s physical and health education classes during the day.

Better yet, says Laramee, the center offers free Alfond center membership to its students who agree to participate in one of the centre’s free enrichment offers. Jernigan already has this free subscription.

“It’s a very good place,” he said of the Alfond center.

Al-Jorani said he also hoped to get membership, which would allow him to do more activities like the ones he attended on Friday.

“During the pandemic, we couldn’t get out at all,” he said, referring to last year.

Friday at school, Laramee and the students were joined by Victor Esposito, Jobs for Maine Graduates specialist at the Alfond center; school guidance director Lisa Hallen; Avery Ryan, Youth Program Coordinator at Alfond Center; and Lexi Cole, South End Teen Center coordinator. They said the partnership has been successful and they hope to expand it to other schools in the area.

“As long as we give something for a child to do, it’s worth our time and effort,” Ryan said.

Hallen said the students benefit from the program.

“Especially during times of COVID, the fact that they can go out and take off their masks and have some time in the middle of their day is so important,” Hallen said.

High school junior Robyn Brochu, 16, got a job as a lifeguard at the Alfond center where she works eight hours a week. She hopes to go to college one day to study sports medicine.

“I started last month at the outdoor pool,” she said.

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