Final bell doesn’t mean learning stops at Fleeta

Published 11:59 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

A new program at Fleeta School is helping to show students that staying in the classroom after school is not always a bad thing.

The U.S. Department of Education presented Fleeta with a five-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grant this year, which the school quickly put to work to fund an after school program for its students.

“Now our students have the opportunity to stay in school until 5:30 p.m. each day,” Fleeta principal Roger McLain said of the program. “Students who need extra help are getting extra help. They don’t have to go home and worry about completing homework. When they go home at 5:30 p.m. each day they can play and have time to enjoy with their family without worrying about homework. We have seen grades come up tremendously since we started this.”

The grant will provide $125,000 in funding each year for the first three years, $75,000 in funds for the fourth year and $50,000 for the final year.

Site and after school program director Doris MacDonald said the program is designed to bring parents, students, the school and the community closer together.

“You are supposed to include not only the school, the children and the parents, but also the community,” she said. “We are having people come into the school to do presentations for the kids and we are also taking the kids out into the community. The purpose is to build a well-rounded program that will allow the community to become a bigger part of the school and to make the kids more aware of what is going on in the community.”

For $2.50 a day, students get a snack, recreation time, computer time, one-on-one assistance with homework and arts and crafts. Students have access to an after school staff that includes two certified teachers, three high school helpers and one adult aide.

McLain said federal funding has covered all expenses related to the program and fees collected over the next five years will be saved for use when the grant expires.

“We are trying to build sustainability in this grant for when it runs out so that we can continue this program,” McLain said. “All fees we obtain from this program are being saved for when the grant is gone so that we can keep it going.”

McLain added that he has heard of schools receiving the grant in two consecutive five-year terms and he intends to reapply for the grant at the end of the fourth year, but he wants to ensure the program can continue to function if the grant is not renewed.

“We want the best for all of our students and our staff will continue to work to obtain whatever we can to improve their learning experience,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes.”

Students who participate in the after school program will be given a special treat this summer, as a reward for their hard work.

“This summer all students who participate in the program on a regular basis will be treated to one week at Camp Victory in Hacoda, Ala.,” McLain said. “At the end of the camp we will have a cookout at the camp.”