CROTHERSVILLE — When the bell rings around 3 p.m. at Crothersville Elementary School, most students head home for the rest of the day.

But for 16 girls, an extra hour and a half is spent at school Monday through Thursday participating in activities that are fun and educational.

It’s a part of Girls Inc. of Jackson County’s after-school extension program, which incorporates Girls Inc.’s national programming.

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The program facilitator comes up activities based on different themes every eight weeks.

For the first eight weeks of the school year at Crothersville, Girls Inc.’s Steppingstones program focused on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, with some activities taking place outside since the weather was nice.

Now through Christmas break, crafts are done Mondays and Wednesdays, and science is the focus for Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Kelly Royer, program director at Girls Inc. of Jackson County, came up with activities for the first 16 weeks of the school year. Amber Bryant-Adair, the new site facilitator at Crothersville, will choose the activities for the other two eight-week sessions.

“Amber will plan the next one based on what she likes to do because if the facilitator is enthused and really into it, they are going to get the girls really into it,” Royer said.

Royer was hired by 17 years ago to take Girls Inc. programming into all Jackson County schools.

At one point, the organization received funding through the United Way and its AmeriCorps program for the after-school program. But when AmeriCorps ended locally, Girls Inc. wasn’t able to continue offering its programming at all county schools.

Crothersville Elementary School Principal Chris Marshall saw value in the program and wanted to keep it going. It’s now the only county school that offers the after-school program, thanks to donations from a couple of local industries.

“The big thing is building character, good character traits, improving decision-making skills for young girls as they grow up,” Marshall said. “We also provide STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities, so life-skill-building activities, which is a very positive thing for girls.”

In the spring, the school conducts a fundraising drive for Girls Inc., where students seek donations from family members and friends. Those who raise at least $50 ride in a limousine to have lunch at a restaurant with Marshall.

Marshall also provides snacks for the girls to enjoy during the after-school program.

The only cost for the girls is a $50 Girls Inc. membership fee, which is good from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 each year. That also allows them to attend programs at the Girls Inc. facility in Seymour.

Girls Inc. is open to girls in kindergarten through 12th grade. Royer said they encourage those in seventh through 12th grade to become volunteers and help lead activities.

Royer said the Crothersville after-school program is unique because it’s four days a week. When it was at other county schools, it usually was just once a week.

“Each year, the program keeps growing a little bit bigger, which is awesome,” she said of Crothersville.

The after-school program follows Girls Inc.’s motto of “Strong, Smart and Bold.” Strong promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle, smart ties in with anything educational and bold focuses on life skills.

“Every type of program we do has to fall into one of those three categories,” Royer said.

One benefit of the after-school program is it’s a safe place where girls can continue to learn in a different environment, rather than just the school setting, Royer said.

“It’s a totally different learning environment,” she said. “It’s not one where you come in, they sit down, they do their work. We have fun, and we (do a variety of activities).”

Bryant-Adair said it’s a good social atmosphere, too.

“I think it’s great for the girls just to kind of relate and hang out and interact with one another,” she said. “That helps promote life skills and definitely coping with one another. They can definitely relate to one another, and they have a good time.”

Bryant-Adair said she is excited about leading the program for the rest of the school year.

“I’m definitely looking forward to just hanging out with the girls. They are a lot of fun,” she said. “My husband and I do stuff during the summer with kids. We coach a baseball team, and some girls (in the after-school program) we already knew, and I substitute at the school, so I know some of them from that. You get to relate with them like you do in the summer. It’s just a lot of fun.”

If funding becomes available, Royer said Girls Inc. would like to restart after-school programming in other county schools.

At a glance

Girls Inc. of Jackson County offers after-school programming at its facility at 956 N. O’Brien St., Seymour, and at Crothersville Elementary School.

For information, visit girlsincjackson.org or call 812-522-2798.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.