A Pennsylvania senate candidate recently made a stop in Jim Thorpe to learn about an after-school program that aids in children's development.

On Friday afternoon, state Rep. John T. Yudichak visited L.B. Morris Elementary School to see what the Lehigh Carbon Community College's SHINE after-school program had to offer. He asked to learn about the SHINE program after attending a recent legislative brunch, hosted by numerous Carbon County officials and agencies.

During the visit, Jeanne Miller, director of the SHINE program; and Holly Mordaunt, principal of the school, showed Yudichak what the students were working on and how the SHINE program has helped the children learn and grow.

Miller explained that there are over 300 children, in grades first through fifth, in the SHINE program. It is staffed by teachers, as well as college and high school student volunteers who want to help mentor the children.

The students receive help with school work, as well as learn about various career and social building topics. Currently, the fourth and fifth grade students were learning about high priority careers such as finances, logistics and more.

As Miller, Mordaunt and Yudichak visited the two SHINE classrooms, they discussed how this program has improved the children's interests in school; as well as contributed to building stronger family relationships through various activities and programs.

"It's truly great when the kids ask me how they get into the SHINE program," Mordaunt said.

They also discussed the funding that it takes to run the program.

Miller explained that it costs $75,000 a year to run one SHINE center. The SHINE program has four centers in Carbon County and two centers in Schuylkill County and is currently funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency

She said that they would like to expand into more schools in the area, but cannot due to the costs.

Yudichak said that he was amazed by the SHINE program because it focuses on ways to help the students and their families.

"It's very impressive to see the personal attention that these kids get and the enthusiasm they have for the program," he said. "You can tell the teachers have a passion and that is great. The SHINE program is giving the students a tremendous head start in life."

The students then shared the skits they will be performing during the upcoming Lights On After School Program on Oct. 21. The program will take place at 5 p.m. at the Panther Valley High School Auditorium.

The SHINE after-school program is an initiative through LCCC that helps elementary school students in Lehighton, Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley, Mahanoy City, and Shenandoah in their studies; as well as helps them build socialization skills and a stronger relationship in the family.

Since its inception in 2004, the SHINE program has served hundreds of area students and has taken them to higher levels in education.

For more information on the SHINE program, visit www.shineafterschool.com [1].