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Boswell stays after school

By NICK NARIGON

boswell
Congressman Leonard Boswell, center, visited the after school program at Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Congressman Leonard Boswell visited the after school program at Iowa Valley High School Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The congressman appropriated $89,000 in federal funds to help pay for the $96,000 program, sponsored by Iowa/Benton County Decategorization.

“I’m glad to be able to support this program and I am glad you never let up in your efforts,” Boswell told a group of area educators and administrators. “I just came by to say, ‘hello.’”

The after school program started last January and was organized by Iowa/Benton County Decat. Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Decat coordinator, said the program helps students with aggression problems and helps prevent drug and alcohol use.

“The goal is to reduce juvenile delinquency and keep kids from getting involved with the juvenile court,” Wetjen-Kesterson said. “It helps students who have behavioral problems as well as academic problems.”

Parent involvement is an important aspect of the program, she said, and one requirement of the class is that the students spend one day a week doing community service.

The program is available to students ages 12-18 in Iowa and Benton counties. Currently four students are in the after school class. The program is taught by Susan Turnbull at Iowa Valley High School.

Wetjen-Kesterson said the program is funded through the end of the current calendar year.

Shawn Moss, Iowa and Benton county juvenile court officer, said the program has already had success. He said one student came in as a heavy drug user and is now completely clean.

“He is on track because of the structure of the program,” Moss said. “It would be nice to get more referrals. The more kids we get into the program, the better.”

Moss stressed that one important aspect of the program is they reach students before they enter the juvenile court system.

While Decat provided the foundation to start the after school class, Four Oaks, Cedar Rapids, administers the program.

Tim Zaiser, program manager for Four Oaks, said the program is designed to make sure the kids stay successful in school. The program helps the students stay organized and they receive help with their homework as well as socialization skills.

“We had one student that I had here who was heavy into drugs. Now he is making vast improvements in school and work. A complete 180. I am very proud of him,” Zaiser said.

UPDATED September 2, 2009 10:53 AM

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