Court Youth Center
Margaret S. Ryan Safe After School Program
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Contact: Irene Oliver Lewis, Executive Director and Artistic Director
Court Youth Center
- The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant has enabled Court
Youth Center to provide children, youth and families in our community
with greater access to an educational arts facility and authentic arts
experiences in our arts-based Safe After School program.
Irene Oliver Lewis
de Mejico, a youth ballet Folklorico group at the Court Youth Center,
perform at the closing ceremony for the Las Cruces, New Mexico 21st
Century Community Learning Center Safe After School Program which
included more than 500 participants from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The Court Youth Center (CYC), located in an old junior high school, is
home to youth and community programs in the visual and performing arts
and other areas. CYC is a partnership between the schools, who own the
building, and the City of Las Cruces. Together with the Las Cruces Public
School District, it has established a network of seven 21st Century Community
Learning Centers, expanding the Safe After School program started in 1997.
The learning centers are based at the individual schools and use CYC as
an off-campus laboratory and studio for programs and field trips.
After-school, weekend and summer programs are designed around an arts-based
and career-focused curriculum which incorporates hands-on meaningful applications
of fine arts. Activities are linked to the school curriculum and are designed
to assist the students in meeting or exceeding academic standards in reading,
math, science, creative thinking and life skills. These avenues encourage
students to become productive citizens in the community; learn healthy
leisure alternatives that contribute to reduced drug use and violence;
and strive for educational success.
The ratio of staff is ten to one. The staff consists of a certified school
employee of the host school as the lead teacher and supervisor; six to
eight parent teachers living in the neighborhoods; a CYC artistic director,
after-school coordinator and six artists to integrate the arts into the
core academic subjects; and leaders from community organizations which
offer training, volunteers, mentors and additional resources. Safe After
School staff, CYC staff and artists are trained together to understand
the concept and techniques of integrating the arts into the regular academic
curriculum. Training is conducted three times a year.
There are programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
At the middle school, six certified teachers and one educational assistant
make up the staff. Sessions include photography, a Mars Millennium Project
and mural, as well as tennis and computers. Working in a team with the
teacher, a CYC artist is providing artistic guidance for the mural project.
Another CYC artist has formed a theatre group. The CYC itself hosts a
wide variety of other arts activities.