As the pace slows on the Island now that summer is officially over, attention turns from beaches to indoor pastimes, leaving some Island children to wonder what to do after school.
Not to worry. Vineyard schools, libraries, and youth organizations have stepped up to the challenge, offering everything from Wii tournaments to arts and crafts, to a Harry Potter-inspired club at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
The Chilmark Library hosts a craft program every Wednesday at 3 pm for first-graders and up. The program, featuring crafts based on the stories that have been read to the children each week, is headed by Irene Tewksbury. "Bats, Spiders and Scarecrows," will be the subject for Halloween.
Saturdays are reserved for Island teens and tweens to meet and discuss books, to watch movies, or play Wii games on the library's eight-foot screen. Events will start in mid-October and are free. Contact the Chilmark Library at 508-645-3360.
It's story time at the Edgartown Library. Every Wednesday and Thursday the library features story hours for toddlers and preschoolers. This month focuses on Roald Dahl, author of such favorites as "James and the Giant Peach." On September 26 there will even be a Revolting Refreshment Party, in honor of "Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes." Many of the monthly programs presented by the library are centered on seasonal holidays. Contact the library at 508-627-4211.
The Vineyard Haven Free Public Library will offer its popular Chess Club on Tuesdays and Wii Games for teens on Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 pm and Friday nights from 8 to 11 pm. The library also schedules events when there are early dismissals or half-days. As part of an ongoing series of programs funded by a grant from The Anderson Children's Foundation, acclaimed mime Robert Rivest will be at the library on Oct. 21. Reach the library at 508-696-4211.
The West Tisbury Library hosts a kid's and teen's advisory group. The group meets monthly to discuss what programs youngsters might want at the library. While there are no formal after-school programs, Nelia Decker, children and young adult librarian, said students from up-Island schools like to meet up, hang out, and do homework together. She said if a book club or other club idea emerges from the advisory group, the library will happily oblige.
And while the Oak Bluffs Library also does not offer any official after-school programs, there are monthly youth book clubs and daytime story times every Wednesday for toddlers and preschoolers. Contact the library at 508-693-9433.
The Martha's Vineyard Boys and Girls Club (BGC) is gearing up for a busy school year offering a variety of supervised activities from athletics, art, and homework help to the now obligatory Wii games. Executive Director Peter Lambos said 70 to 100 children, age kindergarten through sixth grade typically take advantage of the club's offerings. A membership fee of $20 allows children access to all of the programs for the entire school year, excluding field trips, which this year may include a trip to see the Pawtucket Red Sox and visits to the ice rink and Island movie theaters.
In addition, BGC offers a homework Power Hour, where students can earn points for working with staff members on their homework and redeem them for small prizes. Bus transportation is provided from the West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs schools and programs are also offered during vacation days. Visit mvbgclub.org.
The YMCA of Martha's Vineyard again offers curriculum-based after-school programs for children kindergarten through third grade. Located at Cottagers' Corner in Oak Bluffs, the program runs from 2:30 to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. Although the 36 slots for children are already filled, program director Apryl Rae Anastacio still has space available for older children interested in participating in the ABLE program, which teaches boys and girls ages 11 to 14 about community involvement. Visit ymcamv.org.
For a hands-on farming experience, The FARM Institute has three programs. Sidney Morris, educational director for The FARM, explains that each week features a different theme. Tuesdays, children age six and up learn about farming and natural processes using hands-on techniques. Youngsters who have already worked at The FARM can enroll in the Farmers in Training program on Thursdays. And high schools students can share in the work and reap the benefits of farm crops through the WISP program, an apprenticeship that allows students to work raising crops in the winter greenhouses. Programs range from $15 to $20 per session for the 10-week fall series. For more information, visit farminstitue.org.
Hurray for all the free programs. Featherstone Center for the Arts provides five free after-school programs for high school students this fall: darkroom photography, video journalism, poetry, silkscreen printing, and ceramics. Classes run from 2:30 to 4 pm each during the five-week session.
Island schools are a big part of the what-to-do solution. There are more than 20 after-school clubs offered at the high school including fishing, business, arts, drama, chess, a model United Nations, and a writing club. The latest addition is the Quidditch Club, based on a game from the Harry Potter series.
The Edgartown School is organizing clubs, running through November 9, focused on things such as photography, board games, and exercise. Both the Chilmark and West Tisbury schools participate in after-school programs at the YMCA.
Brien Hefler divides his time between the Island and Baltimore, Md.