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Lake Highlands’ Betsy Orton leads ASAS North Texas.

Lake Highlands’ Betsy Orton leads ASAS North Texas.

The first North Texas branch of After School All Stars, a nationwide program providing free activity-filled afterschool programs in low-income schools, recently launched at Kipp Truth Academy in Oak Lawn. The regional program director is a Lake Highlands resident, Betsy Orton, a Southern Methodist University grad who has served with the Friends of the Katy Trail, Texas Trees Foundation and American Red Cross, where she was on the frontlines after hurricane Katrina. She says Kipp Truth reached out to ASAS and proved a good inaugural North Texas candidate because 100 percent of the elementary school’s students are eligible for the federal reduced or free lunch program. That means all of Kipp Truth students’ families earn below-average salaries and likely cannot afford after school care. “We go where we see the greatest need,” Orton says, adding that ASAS will pick more Dallas ISD schools for the program next fall. She says implementing the widely successful afterschool program in Lake Highlands schools also is a future possibility. “We are a North Texas [branch], so we are flexible. We have an eye on Richardson ISD and Tarrant County … we would love to pick up 10 new schools next year,” she says. However, at this point the North Texas group is working with just two full-time staffers, so the support of business sponsors and individual contributions is essential if the effort is to expand to our neighborhood. The children involved in the ASAS program receive opportunities to explore art, drama, gardening and sports, to name a few, as well as academic support and a chance to hear from guest speakers who discuss careers in everything from journalism to firefighting. “Every kid, it seems, wants to be a rapper or a basketball player. We want them to know about the other options,” Orton says. In Los Angeles, where ASAS originated, 44 schools have implemented the program, which serves youngsters who most need it during their formative years. To contribute or to watch a poignant promotional video featuring real North Texas ASAS kids, visit asasnorthtexas.org.


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