Potomac’s parents will have to find another way of occupying their elementary and middle school aged children. The wildly popular “Club Friday” and “After Hours” programs at the Potomac Community Center will be on hiatus until October.
“It’s become kind of a staple program of this community,” said Linda Barlock, director of the community center. Registration for next year’s Club Friday for children in grades three to six will begin Sept. 1.
“This year we received about 850 to 900 applications,” said Barlock. Only 575 are initially selected in a random drawing. As the year goes on some children stop going. “Some move, others decide it’s not for them,” Barlock said. That allows the staff to admit additional children who were not selected. “We got close to 100 off the waiting list this year,” Barlock said.
Club Friday, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m. allows the children an opportunity to dance, play bingo, watch a movie, play basketball, pool or ping pong, and this week, a chance to play laser tag. As a special treat, the approximately 350 children in attendance this week could make ice cream sundaes.
“It’s somewhere for kids to go instead of getting bossed around by their parents,” said Hannah Botelho, 9.
At 9:15, the mood shifts as the “After Hours” crowd descends upon the center. After Hours is for students in grades six to eight. While many of the same activities are available, most of the participants come to dance (or at least to stand on the dance floor and occasionally shift their weight) with 20 of their closest friends as impossibly loud music plays.
This week’s program, an unscheduled day to make up for canceled nights during the snowstorms, attracted about 150 of the young teens. According to Paula Rodgers, coordinator of the After Hours program, weekly attendance averages about 200 area adolescents and over 400 are members.
Sixth graders are eligible for both programs and can choose one or the other or both. Some who have come to both prefer After Hours.
“They’ve got the DJ more,” said Grant Mueller, 11. While popular, After Hours does not require the lottery system since it is rarely at capacity.
The main reason that the programs can work as well as they do is because of the parent volunteers, said Rodgers.
“This program can’t run without them,” Rodgers said. “It’s good for the parents to come and see what their kids are doing.”