CHAZY - Anyone who visited Chazy Central Rural School the afternoon of Jan. 26 was likely to see and hear a parade of students celebrating the Chinese New Year.
Although the actual holiday is not until Feb. 14, students of the after-school program will be partaking in other events at that time.
"Part of after-school programming is you try to hit certain targets," explained director Karen Dumar. "One of those targets is trying to introduce them to different cultures."
Aside from the Dragon Parade held for the Chinese New Year, the students have also taken part in a Native American Pow-Wow in November, and will celebrate Cinco de Mayo in May.
"We keep building up our arsenal as we go," said Dumar. "It gives them an opportunity to experience different things."
Those experiences are one of the main goals of the tuition-based program, which has seen a decline in enrollment, due to the current economy.
"What's happening is because [Pfizer Inc.] closing, they're laying off people," explained Dumar. "Which is affecting us because parents are pulling their kids out because they can't do the tuition anymore."
Although the school does offer some scholarships for tuition, it can't pay for every student who attends.
Dumar has found after-school programming to be a very important for a child, as statistics have shown those students are often more focused in school, more likely to go to college, and less likely to partake in illegal activities.
Although some people consider after-school programming to be "glorified babysitting," Dumar said there is so much more to it than that.
"I like to think we offer a little more than just watching their children," she said. "We try to enrich them and do as much as we can with them. We do science. We have to hit literacy targets."
Behavioral Health Services North also visits the program once a month to work on cooperative games, which, according to Dumar, "helps them with decision-making."
The program also offers many physical activities, from swimming, to sports, to playing Wii.
"We can offer them a lot of enriching activities that they might not otherwise get to experience," Dumar said. "We're kind of in a time of transition where both parents have to work. These kids need a place to go."
The Dragon Parade, one of the culturally-enriching programs Dumar offers to the students every year, helped them to understand a different culture, by listening to Asian-influenced music, learning a special dance for the parade, and creating masks which highlighted that this is the year of the tiger.
In the past, Dumar has had the Dragon Parade simply be a cardboard cutout of a dragon with ribbons attached. This year, however, her daughter, Holly Dumar, decided to take it a step further.
In what took a month to create, students helped make a paper mach dragon face, and Dumar sewed together the rest of the body, which students could fit under.
Other students paraded with the dragon throughout the school using instruments such as a triangle, which the school purchased with a grant from state Sen. Elizabeth O'C. Little, R-Queensbury.
"We bought things that we could reuse over and over again," explained Dumar. "That just seemed to make the most sense."
Any other money that comes into the program, is used to help the students as much as possible.
"I just think that the community needs to understand that these programs need community support," Dumar said. "It takes a village to raise a child ... and without the support of our community, these programs really can't happen."
For more information regarding the after-school program at CCRS, contact the school at 846-7135.