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Former Clover eyesore houses after-school tutoring

Nine-year-old Jakiya Garvin enjoys working on reading and math skills after school each day. Jakiya and a group of other children also have a devotion and do arts and crafts.

"I like subtracting," said Jakiya, a fourth-grader who enjoys math.

Another student, Ajurion Stinson, 9, said her favorite is the daily devotions.

"We talk to God and pray to him," she said.

The two girls are among 13 Kinard Elementary School students participating in a new after-school program at Clover's Roosevelt Park.

The program is located in a mobile unit recently renovated through a partnership with the Roosevelt Community Watch, the town of Clover and other groups.

"We're finding out where the children's weaknesses are and we're strengthening them, specifically in the area of math and reading," said Liz Johnson, a volunteer and community watch member.

The 20-year-old mobile unit is owned by the town of Clover, which contributed about $9,000 toward the renovation. The community watch group raised about $1,500, and the Clover Rotary Club donated $2,000 for the project.

Town Manager Allison Harvey said town leaders wanted to renovate the exterior of the heavily used park's eyesore. But contributions from the Rotary Club and community watch enabled more.

"We had put in money for a new concession stand and paved parking," Harvey said.

She said the project involved replacing the building's exterior siding, roof and decking. The interior work included new flooring, paint, kitchen cabinets and a new microwave and refrigerator. Landscaping will be added.

"This was a great opportunity to fix that eyesore and repurpose that building for a community need," Harvey said.

Harvey said the building had been used for storage. But the community watch expressed an interest in hosting activities there. The after-school program - operated under the Clover branch of the Upper Palmetto YMCA - was an initial idea. The group also envisions activities that involve senior citizens and a mentoring program for teens.

"Right now, we see lots of things that could grow from the tutoring program," Johnson said. "But we need to get this tutoring program established well first and make sure it is successful."

The YMCA hired Rachel Patterson, a Kinard teacher, to direct the after-school program, and Bernice Allison and Billie Burris are tutors. Several volunteers also help after school.

The Clover school district contributed computers and materials for the program, which offers tutoring, devotions, crafts and field trips for students in third through fifth grades from nearby Kinard. Students ride to the site on a school bus after class and are picked up from the park by their parents.

Allison, a former math teacher who taught in the Atlanta area and now lives in Clover, said the students in the program are very motivated.

"I think the kids are going to do great," she said.

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