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S.P.A.N. hosting open house

Next Thursday is a big night for the city of Russellville with the annual Christmas Parade set for that evening, but it is also a big night for a local organization that is dedicated to helping Franklin County’s youth.
The S.P.A.N. (Special Programming for Achievement Network) Program of Franklin County, which is a program for at-risk youth, will host their annual Christmas Open House event immediately following the Russellville Christmas Parade at their location in the old College Avenue School building in Russellville.
The event will include the recognition of graduates from the program, a silent auction to raise money to help operate the program throughout the year, refreshments provided by First Baptist Church, songs performed by the RHS Chorus, and a special presentation of the “Friend of the Year” award, which is presented to a person who has gone over and above to support the program.
Remona Roberson, who is the program coordinator of S.P.A.N. in Franklin County, said for anyone who isn’t familiar with what they do at the program, the open house is a great way to learn these things and see all the accomplishments the students have made during the year.
“This is always an exciting time for our students and staff, which includes our education coordinator, Ed Bragwell; our teacher, Mindy Dunbar; our reading coach, Carol Poss; our foster grandparent, Annie West; and our counselors, Leann Strickland, Pam Palmer and Jamie Harris,” Roberson said.
“They have been busy preparing and decorating the school for the open house, and our advisory board has been collecting some really great items we can use for the silent auction.”
Roberson said the proceeds from the auction would go to support some of the activities and other items the program needs to purchase throughout the year.
“We use the money for things like supplies, but we also use the money to purchase items that will be an encouragement to the kids,” she said.
“We do incentive trips sometimes and offer incentives for certain achievements, like passing the GED test the first time. And we also like to give out Christmas presents to the students at this time of year.”
Roberson said since the program was first started in 1999, they have served over 470 students with an 80 percent success rate of diverting those students from the juvenile court system.
At the open house, they will have 25 students who will be graduating from the program this year, which means they either re-entered the public school system, received their GED or got a job.
“This is a big accomplishment for these kids and we’re proud of what they have achieved,” Roberson said. “The graduation is just a way for us to recognize their hard work and progress.”
Roberson said she hopes to have lots of community support at this year’s open house event.
“Our program is only as strong as the community who supports us,” she said.
“We have been very fortunate to have schools, a court system, businesses, community members and an advisory board who have been supportive of us over the years.
“We hope to have their continued support in the future and look forward to seeing everyone at the open house. It’s always a great event with lots of fun for everyone involved.”