An eagerly awaited Boys & Girls Clubs branch within Eddy and Debbie Peach Elementary School is expected to make a difference for generations of students, just like the school namesakes have done in the Arlington school district, officials said during the school dedication ceremony Jan. 28.
The product of a unique partnership between the district and the nonprofit, the center provides an after-school program focusing on academics, healthy lifestyles and character education, Steve Wurm, Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington president, told the large crowd gathered.
After raising $2.2 million for the center with a matching grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, the nonprofit aims to change the norm for economically disadvantaged students in a school district that’s on the move upward, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said.
“Many times, we know that these kids are going back to either single parents or perhaps no parents at all,” Williams told the large gathering on hand for the dedication. “All of us in Arlington have got to continue to wrap our arms around kids that need our help.”
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The Peaches have embodied philosophy in Arlington for a combined 81 years, Williams said.
“The Peach name speaks of education, it speaks of winning, it speaks of determination, but as we’ve heard, it also speaks of loving our kids,” Williams said.
Eddy and Debbie Peach set the example in Arlington for making a difference in students’ lives and continue to work toward that goal, Williams said before proclaiming Jan. 28 as Eddy and Debbie Peach Day.
Eddy Peach worked in the school district for 45 years and became the first football coach at Lamar High in 1970. He received numerous awards and honors during his coaching career.
“Coach Peach, over the years, the kids that you have touched were so many of the same kids who came to the Boys & Girls Club,” Wurm said. “A lot of them, now, are giving back to our community and they still describe how much it impacted their lives.”
Debbie Peach taught at Arlington schools for 36 years and has been Teacher of the Year at Roquemore Elementary, Shackelford Junior High and Lamar High School.
Helping a mix of about 200 elementary and junior high students a day, the 7,000-square-foot Boys & Girls Clubs center is open from the end of the school day to 7 p.m., said Greg Parker, the nonprofit’s vice president of operations.
In the center, technology is key with a focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math, Parker said. The center contains interactive white boards, about 50 tablets or mobile devices and rooms promoting online learning as well as TVs for video games, he said.
“Thank you to the Arlington Boys & Girls Club — it works in this building,” Eddy Peach said after he and his wife spent time in the center. “It was an awesome experience, awesome. If you are one of the people who contributed to make this happen, I promise you it is working.”
Rafael Sears: 817-390-7657, @searsrafael