Truckee after-school program chosen as state model |

Truckee after-school program chosen as state model

file artTahoe Truckee High School student Laurel Barchas teaches a student how to play piano earlier in the school year. Truckee Youth Music Program, which Barchas started last school year, was selected as a model after-school program for a recent statewide report.

The Truckee Youth Music Program was chosen as one of 35 model after-school programs for teens in a statewide study entitled “Keeping High School Teens Off the Street and On the Right Track.”

The music program, in which teens give free instrument instruction to elementary students who can’t afford lessons, was chosen by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids as an exemplary program to keep teens off the street after school.

“We profiled 37 (after-school programs) across the state, but we looked at a lot more,” said Rob Kaplan, spokesman for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. “We chose the programs we did because we were looking for quality programs – great examples of after-school programs.”

The report, released last month, concluded that although there are many after-school programs for elementary and middle school-aged children, there aren’t many opportunities for high school teens. According to the report, California’s only dedicated funding source for after-school programs provides enough funding to serve only 3 percent of the state’s high schools. The study did not include much research on the effects of competitive high school athletics, but Kaplan said some general research was conducted on those types of activities.

Nevada County’s 13 high schools, according to the report, receive none of that funding.

Tahoe Truckee High School student Laurel Barchas spearheaded the Truckee Youth Music Program last year. Initially, Barchas was a little confused as to why the Truckee Youth Music Program was selected for the report; she felt she was serving elementary students, not high school teens.

“But then I realized it’s because we have high school students as teachers,” she said.

When Barchas started her program, there were four volunteer teachers and 20 students, and now there are eight teens and 35 children. Truckee Youth Music Program has grown faster than Barchas had initially planned.

“The support from the community has been incredible,” Barchas said, referring to donations from local organizations that have helped pay for instrument rental and materials. “We would not have had the potential to increase numbers (of students and teachers) without their support.”

Barchas, 16, is no stranger to large-scale recognition for her program. The Truckee High senior was one of two students in California to win last year’s Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. She was also selected as one of “The 20 Coolest Girls in America,” by YM magazine.

“It’s really nice to show that a program like this is really helping the kids,” Barchas said. “Possibly other high school students might take this idea and start their own program.”

For more information on Truckee Youth Music Program, call 582-4466.

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