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Boys and Girls Club sizzles with summer

By Marianne Graves

Madison County Title 1 schools are wrapping up their 30-day summer session this week held at Greenville Elementary with an estimated 75 students diving into everything from environmental topics to arts and crafts, brain games, sports and even dancing with rhythm sticks at the 21st Century Community Learning Center that encourages mental and physical fitness.

Erica Lewis and Angela Watson of Madison Blue Spring State Park arrived at the Greenville Elementary School gym recently with the ultimate project: learning what keeps Florida’s water pure and how students can do their part to protect the environment from litter and pollution.

Angela Watson, Park Services Specialist at Madison Blue Spring, lines up environmental education aquifers at the Boys and Girls Club of Tabula Rasa summer session. -Photo by Marianne Graves

Best of all, this environmental education was drinkable since the water (soda), rocks (chocolate chips), confining layer of clay (ice cream), soil (colorful cereal puffs) and water (soda) were entirely edible. Pollution was represented by chocolate syrup on top of the aquifer project.

Students from pre-K to fifth grade sat across on the floor of the Greenville gym to put down each layer of their aquifer-in-a-cup, while former schoolteacher Erica Lewis who works with Madison Blue Spring’s Junior Ranger program quizzed them on what they had learned.

Craig Liney, Madison Blue Spring park manager, said the first magnitude spring is up by 100 percent in use this year. The stunning Florida State Park is a natural gem located in the Town of Lee in North Florida, approximately ten miles east of Madison at 8300 NE State Road 6. Phone: (850) 971–5003. The 2017 summer session provided a combination of activities, events and new friendships. “I think it was exciting for the kids,” said Kristie Lane, Boys and Girls Club of Tabula Rasa’s Greenville site director. Kim Washington, Pinetta Elementary site director, agreed: “It was nice. It gave the children something different to do.”

This past Monday, the Greenville Public Library Youth Services led a fast-paced half hour of dancing with rhythm sticks in the elementary school gym. The high energy was contagious as children paired off to tap their rhythm sticks and dance together.

Angela Watson, Park Services Specialist at Madison Blue Spring, lines up environmental education aquifers at the Boys and Girls Club of Tabula Rasa summer session. -Photo by Marianne Graves

The Boys & Girls of Tabula Rasa-Madison County began Madison Basketball League’s season on May 7th. Teams learned what sportsmanship is supposed to be for true success and entertained their fans as well.

This is the last week for the summer session, but prior to school starting on August 10, parents may register their students during Orientation in Madison County for the Student Outreach Afterschool Program at four schools including Madison County Central School, Greenville Elementary School, Pinetta Elementary School and Lee Elementary School. Call (850) 948-1200 for details or go online to

The goal of the program is help students in overall improvement in the areas of math, science, reading, behavior and attendance. Additionally, 70 percent of families of program students are expected to show increased health awareness, connection to the school day and increased knowledge of parenting skills.

Josh Manis is the Area Director overseeing The Blue Door Campaign, which is a community initiative to support the non-profit program through resource development and fundraising. This year Boys and Girls Club of Tabula Rasa is ramping up their giving campaign by taking it grassroots.
Manis wants to give community members the opportunity to put their stamp on the Boys and Girls Club program by donating to the cause that significantly changes the lives of the students they serve.

For anyone who would like to give, go to the “Donate” button online or go to the contact page and write them a special message.

Now quality afterschool programming is available to youth in need of extra help in school, including activities that strengthen prosocial behaviors.