'Champions' learn about Legislature, School Board
Kids in the Champions Afterschool Program at Middleton Elementary got to celebrate the annual "Lights on Afterschool" event with two special guests: Rep. Rich Vial (R-Scholls), who represents District 26 in the state Legislature, and Mike Hiland, who serves on the Sherwood School District Board of Directors and the Sherwood Education Foundation Board of Directors.
The event, sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance, celebrates the importance of afterschool programs offering extended learning opportunities in a safe place for students.
Hiland told the kids about what serving on the School Board entails and how it makes decisions to provide the best education possible for all students in Sherwood, and Vial explained what a legislator does.
"We meet in Salem eight months of the year to pass laws," Vial said. "What is a law? What happens when your mom or dad is driving while using a cell phone?"
The kids answered in unison, "They crash!" and Vial continued, "We passed a law that drivers can get a ticket for doing that. It had to pass by a majority of the House and the Senate. When the Legislature is in session, I leave my home in Scholls at 5 a.m. and don't leave Salem until 8 or 9 p.m."
Vial explained that he got elected by knocking on people's doors to introduce himself and talk about the issues.
"It is important for people to know who is representing them," he said. "In the future, some of you will be on school boards or in the state Legislature making decisions like people like us are doing.
"Champions is a really good name. Don't you feel good when you get your homework done? You should feel like champions. Other kids might go home and forget to do their homework, but you are lucky because you have this opportunity to get more education."
Champions is a leading out-of-school-time provider of extended learning and education programs for school-age children. Champions, a division of KinderCare Education, is offered at more than 425 sites in 19 states.
The Sherwood kids had an opportunity to ask Hiland and Vial questions, and the first one was the biggest issue they are working on. For Hiland, it is the construction of the new Sherwood High School, "where you will go someday," he said. "It needs to be done on time and within the budget."
Vial replied, "The biggest issue in Oregon this year is how we are going to pay for the retirement of public employees like firefighters and teachers. We haven't done a good job of putting money away toward this."
The men were asked where they live, and Hiland said he lives nearby in Sherwood and is a computer programmer, while Vial said he lives on a farm in Scholls where he grows table grapes. "I drove a truck and delivered grapes to your school every week while the grapes were in season," he said.
When the men were asked if they liked school pizza, they both answered in the affirmative.
The issue of traffic congestion was raised, and one girl said she lives near the site of the new high school, and her family is concerned about the future traffic congestion.
A girl asked Vial what issue he is working on now, and he said the Legislature is working on laws to do with autonomous vehicles, which he explained to the kids were cars with no drivers.
When a girl asked how old the men are, Vial answered, "How old do you think I am?" To his delight, the girl answered, "Forty-two."
Vial said he is 63, and Hiland said he is 57, saying to Vial, "You don't look 63."
Vial was asked by a boy if he had ever ridden in a limousine, and he replied, "One time for the senior prom when I was in high school."
He asked the kids what they heard their parents complain about, and a common answer was traffic congestion. "If someone complains to you about something, you should look into it so you can do something about it," Vial said.
The men were asked if they know any other language besides English, and Vial started talking in Japanese, adding that he had lived there for two years, and Hiland said he took Spanish in high school "but I don't speak it well now," he added.
The kids presented both Hiland and Vial with bound booklets featuring drawings and notes thanking them for visiting, and then it was time to enjoy some snacks and chat with Christy Cunningham, the Champions area manager for Sherwood, Beaverton, Hillsboro and Redmond school districts.
The Champions Afterschool Program is offered at every elementary school in Sherwood except Edy Ridge, and those students participating in the program are bused to Middleton.
According to the Afterschool Alliance, for every child in an afterschool program, there are two more whose parents say they would participate if it were available, and one in five students in the U.S. is unsupervised after the school day ends.
For more information, visit kceducation.com/us or afterschoolalliance.org/loa.cfm.