Crothersville starting new after-school program

Homework help, academic enrichment, physical activities and experiential field trips will be a part of a new after-school program at Crothersville.

The Indiana Department of Education recently announced Crothersville Community School Corp. will receive $180,000 in 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant funding for the first year. Over a four-year period, the grant is for approximately $684,000.

The centers aim to increase access to high-quality, non-school-hour programming across the state for students in low-performing and high-poverty schools.

The federally funded program is an out-of-school-time initiative authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act and reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Crothersville partnered with Scott County Family YMCA in writing the grant, which will allow for Champions 21st CCLC Academy to start in the 2017-18 school year.

Crothersville already offers an after-school program through Girls Inc. of Jackson County, but that is only for girls in kindergarten through 12th grade, goes from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and costs $50 for a yearlong Girls Inc. membership.

The YMCA program will be for boys and girls in preschool through eighth grade, run from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and come at no cost. The grant money will be used to pay staff members who will help run the program.

For Chris Marshall, principal of Crothersville Elementary School, one word came to mind when he heard the corporation received the grant.

“Ecstatic,” he said. “These funds will provide wonderful opportunities for our children and good-paying jobs for our staff. It’s a win-win for the community.”

He has been a big supporter of keeping the Girls Inc. program at the school and also has been working to offer something for boys to attend.

“Every child, male or female, needs academic and enrichment activities to develop proper brain growth,” Marshall said. “In addition, this program will offer academic remediation throughout the year, so I want to make sure every child has the support he or she needs to be successful.”

Tony Stidham, program director at the Scott County Family YMCA, was contacted by Marshall and Crothersville Superintendent Terry Goodin about offering the YMCA’s program at Crothersville. They had heard about a similar program offered to Scott County School District 2 students.

That program, which is in its third year, started through a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. It serves more than 200 students five days a week at four elementary schools in the Scottsburg district. Three to six staff members lead the program at each school.

The Crothersville grant was written to serve 80 students per day and hire 10 staff members, including a site coordinator, assistants, tutors and two bus drivers. Transportation will be offered to take kids home if needed.

The grant requires an entity, such as the YMCA, to partner with a school. For the grant application, Marshall provided demographics about the school and students and high-stakes testing data and trends to Stidham.

Stidham said the plan is to start taking staff applications in mid-March, share program information with parents in early April and then begin registering kids. Staff members would attend training in the summer.

In terms of the four aspects of the after-school program, Stidham said parents like the homework help because their child is able to complete his or her homework while still at school. That allows for more family time at home, he said.

“What we see with the kids is either their grades stay the same or they go up because they are getting that extra support,” Stidham said. “Test scores go up a percentage compared to those who don’t come.”

Academic enrichment activities will include Legos, science experiments, geography lessons, arts and music.

The physical activities, including indoor bowling, dodgeball and relay races, will allow children to get up and be active. Healthy snacks and drinks will be provided, too.

“What we see now is with a lot of kids, we’re in that video game age. They don’t like to do a lot of physical activities outside of school,” Stidham said. “We will do stuff that gets them interested, and we integrate school-based activities and school subjects in every activity. We try to blend something in from the school day to make it a learning activity.”

The experiential field trips will help them learn and prepare for everyday life.

“A large sum of money is set aside just so the kids can experience stimulating field trips that they may not otherwise get to experience,” Marshall said.

Seventy-five school corporations, nonprofits and community organizations applied for 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, and 57 were awarded between $75,000 and $325,000. The overall total awarded was $10.3 million.

Another Jackson County school district, Medora Community School Corp., received $112,500. That will be used to start a high school after-school program that focuses on college and career readiness.

Medora already has a 21st Century Community Learning Centers after-school program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Run by Blue River Services Inc., the program currently has 42 students enrolled.

The program runs from 3 to 6 p.m. every school day. Students receive snacks for the first half-hour before concentrating on homework from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The rest of the time is spent participating in club activities and special events.

At Crothersville, Stidham said he plans to meet with Girls Inc. officials to be able to blend activities between that after-school program and the new one.

Girls Inc. national programming is offered through the after-school extension program. A program facilitator comes up with activities based on different themes every eight weeks, and activities follow Girls Inc.’s motto of “Strong, Smart and Bold.”

The $50 fee is good from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 each year and also allows girls to attend programs at the Girls Inc. facility in Seymour.

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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.