LACONIA — Katie Theberge, an incoming freshman at Laconia High School, has been selected to participate in a series of U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center conferences as part of the national Youth Voices Project. The first conference — the 2015 Summer Institute — will be held in Dallas, Texas next week. Other conferences will occur over the next two years.
Theberge, the daughter of Jonathan and Regina Theberge, has served as a member of the advisory board for the Laconia School District's Project Extra program and says she has taken part in Project Extra programs for nine years.
She is one of only seven Youth Voices Project participants chosen to take part in the national conferences and on Tuesday in Dallas will be part of a Student Voices discussion led by Pat O'Connel Johnson, acting director of the U.S. Education Department's Office of Academic Improvement and Monique McDowell-Russell, project specialist for Foundations, Inc. Among the topics for discussion are student bullying as well as substance abuse prevention and promoting community engagement in schools.
Theberge attended a New Hampshire 21st Century Community Learning Center Program gathering held at Church Landing in Meredith Tuesday morning, where it was announced to the approximately 200 educators attending the gathering that she had been chosen for the national honor.
"I'm really excited and can't wait to meet the students from other states and find out about their experiences with these after school enrichment programs,'' said Theberge.
She said that she has benefited greatly from the Project Extra programs and the extended learning opportunities offered by the program.
''My most recent favorite was archery. That was really a lot of fun.'' said Theberge.
''The Project Extra teachers are awesome. If you need help there always there for you'' said Theberge.
Christine Gingerella, who has been the director of the Laconia School District's Project Extra program for three years, said that there are about 500 children involved in the city's Project Extra programs, which involve a wide variety of activities, ranging from Write Nights, dances and bingo nights to an annual Gale Library to Goss Reading Room walk and Children's Literacy Foundation book giveaways.
The local program partners with the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, the Laconia Library and the Parks and Recreation Department as well as Lakes Region Child Care Services.
Gingerella says that about 275 elementary school students in the city are taking part in a summer reading program offered in conjunction with the Children's Literacy Foundation which provides free books to students taking part.
Katie Theberge, a member of the advisory board of Laconia School District's Project Extra who will be a freshman at Laconia High School in September, has been selected to represent New Hampshire at a national ''Youth Voices Project'' conference in Dallas, Texas. (Roger Amsden/ for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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