After the Bell – new Takoma Park afterschool program


The Takoma Park Recreation Center begins a new aftercare program Monday, Aug. 25 designed as a school continuation service for grades K-5.

“After the Bell” will run Monday through Friday, 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m and will incorporate physical activity, study periods and community gardening. The program replaces “Kid City,” which was held from Monday though Thursday last year.


Photo by Chris Melville.

The cost is $1,250 for the ten month school year. This includes a snack as well as all involved activities. Payments options include paying $125 a month or paying the first two months at the beginning of the school year and the remainder at the end of the year.

Need-based scholarships are available and those reduce the monthly fee to $80. Children involved with “Kid City” may be grandfathered in at the old rate, which was $50 a month. The additional operation day prompted the price increase to $125.


Recreation Center site for the program. Photo by Chris Melville.

“If you look around to the different aftercares, it’s still a reasonable price,” said Jurrel Cottman, manager of the project.

Cottman hopes the program will be less like babysitting and more like outside the classroom learning.

“We have homework and study period 30-45 minutes a day,” said Cottman. “We also have worksheets to work on school concepts and mind games, things like crossword puzzles to keep the mind stimulated.”

Cottman and the recreation center are working with community groups to provide additional services to the participants.

They plan on having someone from the Takoma Park Library visit weekly to do book projects with the students. They also plan to work with the recreation center community garden to teach the kids about healthy eating and crop planting.


Gymnasium. Photo by Chris Melville.

A gymnasium with one full basketball court and two other large, multipurpose rooms provide space for the expected 10-15 kids that will enroll. These spaces will be used for traditional sports like basketball and volleyball as well as non-traditional sports, like indoor air hockey.

“First and foremost, we’ll put an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle,” said Cottman. “We now offer a step program on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”


Multipurpose room. Photo by Chris Melville.

The max capacity for this year’s program is 15 children, based on a one staff member to 15 children ratio.

Cottman expects that number to grow and placed total capacity on the center at 25 to 30 children. “We want to offer safety and furthering their education with things they may not get in the classroom.”