Kids are Terry M. Iavarone’s reason for being.
During the school year, Iavarone teaches history in the Bloomfield public school system; in the summer, he runs the youth recreation program for North Arlington.
Last month, the Borough Council appointed Iavarone as the new Youth Center director, replacing Michael Kraft, who’s moving on to a career in law enforcement after three years in the borough slot.
Iavarone, 24, has worked as a counselor for the Youth Center since 2005 and has been lead counselor for the last five years. He’s got a B.A. in history education from Montclair State University.
“We are happy to have Terry on board to continue with the Youth Center programs for the remainder of the year,” Mayor Peter Massa said. “I am confident that given his experience in dealing with students in school and at the Youth Center, he will continue to provide quality services for the young people of this community and their parents.”
Massa extended thanks to Kraft. “He has served the community well at the Youth Center,” he said.
As the new youth leader, Iavarone is currently presiding over an eight-week summer program for North Arlington kids ages four to 10 but eventually he’ll be overseeing programs year-round.
In the meantime, summer activities – indoors and outdoors – are being offered Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, with a staff of 14 counselors on a rotating schedule. “We’ll have maybe eight on any given day,” Iavarone said.
“Every week we’ll have themed programs,” Iavarone said, “like Chirstmas in July, arts and crafts, making goodies, so that kids have something different every week.”
Still in the program’s initial stages, daily attendance has been averaging about 40 kids per week but Iavarone figures that number will be rising as the program advances.
There’s a $40 a week registration fee to cover expenses associated with the program, he said.
“I want to expand the program as much as possible to maximize participation by our kids,” he added. To that end, Iavarone said he’s exploring the possibility of recruiting a counselor trained to work with special needs youngsters.
Iavarone said the program got a boost when Ed Abromaitis, athletic director for Queen of Peace High School, extended use of the Queen of Piece field for play activities. “It’s better for us walking 100 feet to Queen of Peace than going cross-town to, say, Alan Park,” he said.
For now, the North Arlington Board of Education is keeping Rip Collins field complex off-limits because of the reconstruction project authorized by voters in a public referendum earlier this year. For indoor activities, such as ping pong and crafts, kids have unimpeded use of the two-level Youth Center, the former American Legion hall to the rear of the Borough Hall.
On Fridays, the summer kids occupy themselves with a day at the North Arlington Bowl- O-Drome on Schuyler Ave. or watching movies.
Meanwhile, in another recreation- related development, the borough announced that at its last meeting, the governing body authorized spending $9,000 for the first phase of improvements to Alan Park.
Council President Al Granelli said the funding will pay for planning and design of the parking area to increase parking capacity and safety at the site. “This is the start of an investment that we need to make in Alan Park,” he said.
Despite a clamor for the installation of lights by some local advocates, Massa has said that, at this point, that won’t be happening because the lights will interfere with residents of nearby residences.
– Ron Leir