Haines schoolA weekly early release day at Haines School has prompted local organizations to start new afterschool programs. This year, students are in school from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. most days. But they’re let out of school earlier on Thursdays at 1:50 p.m.

School administration asked for that change last year, and it was approved by the school board. It allows weekly professional development time for staff and opens up time on other schooldays for afterschool meetings between teachers, students and parents.

So what’s a kid to do on Thursday afternoon in Haines?

The public library, Sheldon Museum, Takshanuk Watershed Council and swimming pool have all responded to the new early release day by planning Thursday after school programs.

The pool is offering a special after school open swim from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursdays. They started last week, on the first early release day of the school year. Pool manager RaeAnn Galasso says about 14 students showed up.

“Our big push is we’re pretty much the best babysitter in town, probably one of the cheapest, so it’s a good, healthy thing to do after school,” said Galasso. “And it’s safe.”

Admission to the pool is $3.75 for students. Kids can also use punch passes. Galasso says all ages are welcome, but if a child is under 48 inches tall they need to have an adult with them.

The Sheldon Museum is planning a brand new program to give middle and high schoolers some new skills. Museum Director Helen Alten says the junior curator class, will teach students about museum work. They’ll learn about collections, databases, 3D printing, and exhibits.

Alten says the program will culminate in the students making their own exhibit and earning a junior curator certification

“You know we’ve been advertising summer positions and people have no clue, they’ve never done anything with us before,” Alten said. “And I thought this is a good way to really make people aware of what the possibilities are. And for those senior, high school kids, this would count towards their community service.”

The junior curator classes will be taught by recently hired Community Coordinator Madeline Whitek, along with Alten and Andrea Nelson. They’ll run Thursdays from 2:15-3:15 p.m starting this week.

Takshanuk Watershed Council is planning a Thursday afternoon Chilkat Forest Investigators program starting next Thursday, September 3rd.

Executive Director Meredith Pochardt says the program is for 4th through 8th graders and involves environmental education with field trips. Interested students will meet with Takshanuk staff Pam Randles or Mario Benassi each week at the school and will go on field trips around the area. It’ll run from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Pochardt says it’s similar to CFI programs in the past, just at a different time.

The Haines Borough Public Library is starting up an afterschool Tech Club on Thursdays beginning September 17th at 2:30 p.m. That program is for 12 to 18 year olds. Library Education Coordinator Jessie Morgan says it will involve using iPads, learning to take photos, videos and more. Morgan is also planning to form a teen advisory board to help plan programs like the Thursday Tech Club.