Since 1991, Hesperia Unified students have been staying after school to study, learn and play.


They're participating in the After School Activities Program, or ASAP, offered at 15 different Hesperia Unified School District sites and contracted out to the Hesperia Recreation and Park District.


"The program originated for latchkey kids, but it's evolved," Park District Supervisor Steve Hamm said.


The ASAP program varies from school to school, but typically includes homework help, arts and crafts projects, outdoor recreation and healthy snacks.


"The main thing the parents would like to see is the homework help," Hamm said. That way, he said, when parents get home, "it's quality time. You've got a child who's had a snack, had some recreation had some homework help and burned off some steam."


On a typical day at Cypress Academy of the Arts, ASAP program participants are split between indoor crafts projects, homework sessions and outdoor sports clinics.


The program has been successful enough that multiple generations of some families have passed through it now.


"There's some kids who went through the program and now have kids who are in the program," Hamm said.


Hesperia mother Cindy Lopez has had three children participating in the ASAP program at Topaz Preparatory Academy over the past 12 years.


"I work full-time," she said. So knowing that her kids cans be there until 6 p.m. is a relief. "I know that they're supervised. They get snacks while they're there. They actually get homework help while they're there. ... They're not just watching TV, but they're actually doing activities and going out there."


The program is funded in large part by a California Department of Education After School Education and Safety Grant totaling $978,105 for the 2010-11 school year, along with an additional 33 percent in local matching funds from the HUSD.


ASAP costs $15 a week for Hesperia residents and $22 for non-residents, like students at Hollyvale Elementary School, which is inside the HUSD boundaries despite being within Victorville city limits.


If Lopez could change anything about the program, she'd have it extend to higher grade levels.


"I just feel that it's so important for the kids not to be home by themselves after school," she said. "If there's something they can enjoy and learn from, I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone who would ask."


For more information on the ASAP program, visit HesperiaParks.com, call (760) 244-5488 or ask at your local HUSD elementary school's front office.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.