Early afternoon on a school day at the Mooncrest after school program, it’s as quiet as – well, a sleeping child. But, oh, does it wake up at 3PM. That’s when the thirty-some grade school students from the neighborhood come for their after school session pioneered by Sister Rene Procopio. Several years ago, Sister Rene saw the need for the children in this distressed community to break out of an environment that restricted their learning. So she started an after school program that now enjoys enormous success. And RMU is part of it.
“They come every week to work with my kids,” says Sister Rene. ”I don’t know what I would do without Robert Morris University.”
What it is, is a miracle. Watch several of the RMU Colonials play hoops with kids one-third of their size. See Lijah Thompson lift a little girl over his shoulders so she can say she dunked one. You just know there’s a special rapport.
Where all this pays off is in the classroom. After a half an hour of playtime, Lijah and his teammates are ready to go to work. They help each student individually with reading, math, geography or wherever that day’s homework takes them.
The real magic is this – grades have greatly improved for each of them. Without exception. Now there’s a waiting list of students to get into the Mooncrest program. And Sister Rene is busy lining up funding so she can increase her space and change the lives of even more children.
“Their lives are a bit richer,” she says. “It’s truly wonderful what these RMU students do for my children.”
Our lives are a bit richer, too, Sister Rene. Just ask Lijah Thompson.