As the After School program at St. James came to an Thursday, June 16, 2011, what came with it was nothing short of a happy ending.

It began as a simple test of the kind of school parents, kids and supporters of St. James School might expect. With the support and interest of not only local students who would attend After School programming, but also volunteers ready and willing to dedicate their evenings to help advance the academic and social lives of those in attendance.

What better way to celebrate than with a tasty barbecue? Our good friend Jackie did all the cooking—and it was good! While she prepped the barbecued ribs, chicken and beef, friends both young and old played heartily in the parachute circle.

Once dinner was ready and served, Executive Director Dave Kasievich called for the attention of the over 40 supporters. He first thanked the work of everyone in general, but specifically After School Coordinator Victor Gimenez, whose spirit, dedication and energy kept the program on it’s feet from the start. Victor then called each individual teacher, tutor and After School volunteer to receive a special certificate of appreciation in recognition of their tireless work.

But we cannot forget the heart of After School: the students. Mr. Kasievich welcomed them to the front and a joyous round of applause showed generous appreciation for their commitment to do what other chidlren in the neighborhood of Allegheny West may otherwise be afraid or disintersted in doing.

Mr. Kasievich and Father Sean Mullen then took a moment in prayer for the school, and welcomed the founding prinicpal of St. James School Ms. Laura Hoffman.

The evening wrapped with a special thank you to Mr. Tim Gavin, who was just two days from his 100K (62.1 miles) trail run. Mr. Gavin, a religion teacher at Episcopal Academy, chose to raise funds through his run that would help support student education at the school. The children of After School presented Mr. Gavin with a hand-crafted, golden statuette of sneakers. He was very moved and personally thanked each of the students.

As the summer months settle in over St. James School, and the vivacious activites of Camp St. James take over the lush campus, the barbecue was the perfect send-off to a very successful After School at St. James—and the promise of a full, new middle school soon to come!

— Al Cassidy

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