Students, staff and parents in Perry’s Academic, Cultural and Enrichment Services (PACES) marked the 24th annual nationwide Lights On After School celebration Thursday with a variety of activities at the Perry Elementary School.
Longtime PACES Director Mary Hillman welcomed the large group of parents and well wishers to the elementary school lunchroom, noting that PACES has been a valuable part of the Perry educational environment for 24 years and thanking those who helped the program along the way.
Perry Mayor John Andorf read an official proclamation, declaring PACES and Lights On After School Week in the Perry, and Perry Superintendent of Schools Clark Wicks congratulated Hillman, the PACES staff and all the students for their successful programs.
Hillman thanked several foundations and businesses for their financial support. PACES partners joining in Thursday’s celebrations included Fareway Manager Travis Langrebe, Perry Public Library Children’s Literature Coordinator Laura Pieper, Bock Family Foundation Director Scott Finneseth and Iowa PBS Education Coordinator Trista Peitzman. Donations from the United Way of Central Iowa were also acknowledged.
A talent show brought laughter and shouts from the children, with the pre-K and TK, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade and combined fourth and fifth grade classes each taking the stage by turns and performing dance routines to popular songs.
Awards were then presented K/TK, kindergarten, first and second graders in the annual Light Bulb coloring contest — also in its 24th year — while third graders received awards in the poster contest, and winner in the essay contest were named among fourth and fifth graders.
On Wednesday the PACES children walked laps for two hours in order to raise funds for PACES, and they formed a human lightbulb. A light dinner followed Thursday’s activities, with loose-meat sandwiches and desserts closing out the annual event.