I AM WRITING today to talk about the importance of after-school care in my life and in the lives of many Early Language Learning (ELL) students.

I was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and later fled with my family to Uganda. My family was resettled in Concord, New Hampshire in 2014. I was 16 and started my sophomore year at Concord High School. New to the states and new to the English language and culture, my parents were not able to help me with my school work or help me feel comfortable making new friends.

That’s when I started staying after school and attending the 21st Century Community Learning (21C) after-school programming. Not only was I able to access help with my homework, but engaging with other students outside of school helped me grow in confidence socially and in my language skills. 21C was invaluable in my growth and in my junior year of high school I started volunteering at 21C to help other students.

I helped tutor middle school students in math and English, as well as helped out with extracurricular and enrichment activities. It is during the activities that students really grow socially and emotionally, connecting with other students with similar interests.

I know the current pandemic is unlike anything we all have experienced. Concord students are learning remotely to start the school year and learning, and social skills are going to be difficult for some. Like our schools, after-school programs also have had to adapt. We are fortunate that 21C is open and is available to Concord families during this time.

Some after-school programs are not so lucky. Some have lost funding and staff, others have had to adjust hours to accommodate school schedules, some have transitioned to remote assistance, and some have closed their doors.

21st Century Community Learning Centers, like the one here in Concord, are the only federally funded programs dedicated exclusively to support local after-school, before-school, and summer learning programs. Currently, more than 6,100 kids are enrolled in a 21st Century program in New Hampshire, with the state receiving $6.1 million in federal funds. It is critical to keep this funding in place and right now the current administration has eliminated funding in the proposed FY2021 budget.

Supporting after-school programs keeps kids safe, inspires kids to learn, and helps America’s working families. We cannot let these funds slip away.

I am now a senior at Harvard University, studying remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. In my free time, I hope to volunteer once more at 21C, to give back to the program that helped me so much and to help other students feel good about themselves, both academically and socially. I encourage everyone to support afterschool programming, without it many students would be left behind both academically and socially. Please reach out to your representatives and Senators to advocate for 21st Century Community Learning Centers and all after-school care programs.

Esther Elonga is a student at Harvard University studying remotely. She lives in Concord.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

RESTLESSNESS, agitation, irritability and confusion — just a few symptoms of sundowning, a common phenomenon experienced by people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD), where the onset of darkness stirs anxiety. The condition causes those affected to lose their sense of time and …

Monday, November 23, 2020

AMONG MY favorite traditions at Thanksgiving is the part where we go around the table and say what we are thankful for. For this year’s COVID Thanksgiving, there may be a lot fewer people around our table, but my list of what I am thankful for is much longer.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

THANKSGIVING will be a little different this year. We’ll be gathering with family and friends, though probably in smaller groups. We’ll be watching football games played in empty stadiums. And some will be trying to pass the mashed potatoes through Zoom.

Friday, November 20, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I ONCE READ that all countries reach their pinnacle and then begin to decline. I hope this is not so for America, but our political climate would say that it is. Not only a decline but, if we don’t get hold of it, a path for self-destruction. We don’t need to worry about Russian interference…

Monday, November 16, 2020
  • Updated

Most Americans do not fear nuclear war. They assume that their government and the threat of mutually-assured destruction will keep them safe. This blind faith could prove catastrophic. The only outcome of nuclear war is total devastation—hundreds of millions dead, human life reduced to char …

  • Updated

Less than one week after the election, Governor Sununu announced that his first priority with the incoming Republican majorities in the House and Senate will be to raise your property taxes. The last budget, passed by the Democratic controlled legislature in 2019, contained historic investme…

Sunday, November 15, 2020

DESPITE THE seemingly paradoxical outcome of the 2020 election here in the Granite State, voters actually sent a clear message: New Hampshire is a true purple state full of ticket splitters who refuse to vote according to type.