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Kingston seeks new fun options for kids

KINGSTON — Now that the school year is over, Kingston After Hours, the KJH after school program, has ended.

But that doesn’t mean kids in Kingston will have nowhere to go after school.

Backers of Kingston After Hours and other youth events in Kingston are hoping a Kingston Boys and Girls Club can be started to take the place of Kingston After Hours.

A committee has formed to take on that challenge. Interested people will meet at 7 p.m. tonight at the Kingston Community Center. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Kingston After Hours was first funded by a three-year grant awarded in September ,1998.

The program ran for three years; four days a week, students at KJH could hang out after school in order to study, take part in drama or the aviation club, or just talk with their friends.

More than 50 percent of KJH’s students took part at one time or another. Attendance averaged about 40 kids a day, although the numbers were lower in the spring when sports dominated the kids’ time.

The students also took field trips.

When the three-year funding ran out before last year, the North Kitsap School District stepped in.

They used funds from Initiative 728 to fund the program for another year. While it was slightly reduced (no more field trips), the program continued as always.

But the district suffered an $800,000 shortfall in state funding this year, and had to cut several programs from the budget; Kingston After Hours was one of the programs eliminated.

Kingston community members hope to make up that loss by forming with a Kingston Boys and Girls Club.

“It would be an incredible benefit for everyone,” said Cindy Nielson, who ran Kingston After Hours for several years and has been active in raising support for a local Boys and Girls Club.

So far, community members,who have expressed an interest in helping include several North Kitsap School District Staff members, a local attorney, NKF&R Chief Nichol, interested parents and representatives of the Kingston Kiwanis.

Their task won’t be easy. The committee was told by Boys and Girls Club officials recently that they must raise between $200,000 and $450,000 to begin a Boys and Girls Club. The amount will vary depending on how large the program is.

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