BEVERLY - A new program at the United Methodist Church in Beverly will provide Fort Frye High School students with dinner and a place to go in between school and home football games on Friday nights.
Valarie Garvin, Teen Ministry director at the church, said the Friday Night Lights program will provide a safe place for the students to be when they don't have a chance to go home.
"We're looking for seventh through 12th graders to have a place to eat and hang out before games because a lot of them have to stay for marching band or whatever they do and they don't have a place to go," Garvin said.
Fort Frye Local Schools covers a very large section of the county's children, many of whom commute quite a distance to get to school, according to Tina Bohl, a Beverly-Center Elementary School third grade teacher.
"Our school district is so large mileage-wise that the students often don't have time to go home and then make it back in time for our games," Bohl said. "In the past some of those kids would spend that time roaming around town."
Garvin said part of the goal of Friday Night Lights as a church outreach program is to get students into the building who have never been there before.
About Friday Night Lights
Where: United Methodist Church in Beverly, 700 Park St.
What: A program in which students stay and are fed dinner at the church after school on the Fridays of football games at Fort Frye High School.
When: The first Friday Night Lights is Friday. It will occur every Friday when there is a Fort Frye High School home football game.
Who: The program is designed for Fort Frye seventh through 12th graders.
"We're looking for everybody but my main focus is just the kids that need somebody. A lot of kids stay for the football games who don't have a lot of friends to hang out with," she said.
She also said the church will provide many activities for the youth, with a Nintendo Wii and a collection of movies on hand.
Bohl said her son, 15-year-old Derek, would benefit from attending Friday Night Lights.
"I think it provides a place for them to form friendships and hopefully my son, when he's a bit older, will provide a leadership role for some of those younger kids," she said. "It shows him how to be of service."
Derek Bohl, who is a ninth grader at Fort Frye High School, said he'd anticipating hanging out with his friends at Friday Night Lights and think the idea is a smart one.
"Before we had this option, kids were walking to many different places, and going across the street many different times. It keeps them away from the roads," he said.
All Fort Frye High School students are welcome at the program, which kicks off this Friday as soon as school ends, according to Garvin.
"They're also gonna provide meals for the kids free of charge," Tina Bohl said. "That's nice to hear as a parent, instead of the kids just going to the convenience store to buy a bag of chips and a candy bar."