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Hazleton, April 7, 2016  Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th), state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), and Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy have formally opened the SHINE of Luzerne County after-school program in the Hazleton Area School District. Students participating in the program, district officials and community leaders helped cut the ribbon this morning at the Maple Manor Elementary School.

SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) of Luzerne County began last fall in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts and has now expanded to Hazleton.  The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum.  SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation.

“We are thrilled to have the Shine program in thSHINEe Hazleton Area School District,” said Superintendent Dr. Craig Butler. “This is a terrific outreach program for our students who desire an experience in STEAM related activities and it’s also a tremendous opportunity to extend their school day in learning activities that will enrich their education and their lives. We are thankful for the supporters and the partnership with Wilkes University in this endeavor.”

“We have seen SHINE in action in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties, and we are thrilled to see it expand into Luzerne County, and now Hazleton,” said Congressman Barletta.  “SHINE fills 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. SHINE opens up a world of possibilities, and the chance of a brighter future. By reaching even more children, we are building on what has already been a rousing success.”

Congressman Barletta fought hard to protect funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), which supports programs like SHINE, that had been targeted for elimination. He negotiated 14 changes to a bill in support of afterschool programs, and specifically the SHINE model in the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

Barletta sent a letter to lead House and Senate negotiators imploring them to preserve the 21st CCLC program. As a result, the conference report passed and was approved by the president authorizing $1 billion in funding for the 21st CCLC program.

“The expansion of the program to Hazleton is another major milestone for SHINE in its first year of operation,” said Senator Yudichak.  “If we leave to our young people an inheritance rooted in a quality education then they will leave our schools empowered and become an unstoppable force for good in our communities and our great commonwealth.”

“Wilkes University proudly joins Congressman Barletta and Senator Yudichak in celebrating the expansion of SHINE into the Hazleton Area School District,” said Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, President of Wilkes University.  “With the opening of two new centers, SHINE continues to fulfill its promise of bringing a brighter future to children in our community.”

Wilkes University, the educational host for SHINE of Luzerne County, provides administrative and educational support services for the program.

“Today was made possible by the hard work of many individuals in the Hazleton Area School District, the SHINE teachers, staff and the parents who are excited that children in the Hazleton Area will be provided an afterschool program with a focus on academic enrichment in a safe and engaging environment,” said Jeanne Miller, Interim Director of SHINE of Luzerne County.

Currently, SHINE of Luzerne County has 66 teachers and staff serving 281 students from five area school districts: Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming Valley West, Nanticoke Area, Hanover Area and Hazleton Area.

The program centers include: State Street Elementary in Larksville, Heights Murray Elementary in Wilkes-Barre Elementary, Kennedy Elementary in Nanticoke, Maple Manor Elementary in Hazle Township, Wilkes-Barre Career and Technical Center in Plains Township, West Side Career and Technical Center in Pringle and the Hazleton Career and Technical Center in Hazle Township.

Current funding partners include: The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund; United Way of Wyoming Valley; United Way of Greater Hazleton; the PA Department of Economic and Community Development and the Commonwealth Financing Authority, the US Dept. of Education, Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Development Board and Verizon.