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Hanover Township, February 2, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and other community leaders including Wilkes University President Dr. Patrick F. Leahy and Hanover Area Superintendent Andrew Kuhl commemorated the opening of the newest Luzerne County SHINE center, Lee Park Elementary School in Hanover Township, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon.

Luzerne County SHINE was founded in 2014 to provide science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (“STEAM”) education through a comprehensive after-school program that also provides children with healthy and balanced meals. After one year, Luzerne County SHINE operates eight centers across the county and serves more than 300 children. The program was modeled on a similar initiative in Carbon County and Senator Yudichak along with Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th District) lobbied to start-up SHINE in Luzerne County after a string of turbulent years of violent crime and high unemployment in the region.

“When we invest time and resources to educate the next generation, it pays enormous dividends for the future well-being and vitality of the community,” said Senator Yudichak. “Programs like SHINE are small but vital steps to combat the region’s entrenched problems.” Senator Yudichak praised Dr. Leahy, his staff, and all the administrators and teachers who make SHINE a reality for hundreds of children.

“Serving as the educational host for Luzerne County SHINE affirms our role as a private university with a public purpose,” said Dr. Leahy. “SHINE reflects the highest ideals of Wilkes University and the highest aspirations of our community. The enthusiasm and excitement about learning that SHINE sparks in our children will have benefits for years to come.”

Superintendent Kuhl has been a tireless supporter of SHINE since its inception and he strongly advocated for a center to be opened within the Hanover Area School District. “I knew that if we hosted a center within the district that it would generate more interest in the program and yield better results for our children and families,” he said. Luzerne County SHINE estimates that more than 60 children will participate in the program through the center at Lee Park Elementary School as well as the home-visit program in the district.

“It is tremendously gratifying to see SHINE continuing to reach more and more children with each passing day.  SHINE can play a vital role in children’s lives, because while it does occupy their time after school, it also occupies their minds, encourages them to learn in creative ways, and keeps them surrounded by good influences,” said Congressman Barletta. “SHINE opens up a world of possibilities, and the chance of a brighter future. By reaching even more children in Luzerne County, we are building on what has already been a rousing success.”

State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski also attended today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “As a former teacher, I know the value of programs like Luzerne County SHINE,” he said. “This program is only a year-old, but Wilkes University, Carol Nicholas, and her staff have already established it as an integral part of our commitment to educate and prepare the next generation.”

“I have been in public service for nearly two decades and without a doubt, Luzerne County SHINE is one of my proudest accomplishments and I am eager to see where it will go next,” said Senator Yudichak.

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