Grant expands school's offerings - Catholic Courier

Grant expands school’s offerings

St. Michael School in Newark recently teamed up with four local public-school districts to earn a grant that will increase the schools’ enrichment and academic opportunities for students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. At St. Michael, this means middle-school students can take advantage of before-school and afterschool opportunities each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, said Pauline DeCann, principal.

"St. Michael School has a partner agreement with the 21st Century Eastern Wayne County Consortium," she explained.

The consortium comprises St. Michael as well as the Clyde-Savannah, Lyons, Newark and North Rose-Wolcott school districts, and together these schools applied for a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. The grant is intended to help these schools offer high-quality educational, developmental and recreational services for students and their families.

The grant money came through over the summer, so the schools were able to implement their resulting programs at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, DeCann said.

"Each school will implement it according to their student body and the number of students they have, the needs of the students, the needs in their own areas," she said. "We got a portion of the grant money so that we can provide before- and afterschool workshops, tutoring, homework help and activities."

At St. Michael, the grant money will be used to compensate a faculty member for coordinating the program and supervising the students, as well as to pay for supplies and busing for off-campus activities, DeCann said.

Middle-school students who want to take advantage of these opportunities may visit the classroom of Jill DeCook, seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher, between 7:20 and 8:20 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. DeCook also will be available from 3:15 until 4:15 those days, unless other grant-funded activities have been planned for those times.

"The students register to come, but that doesn’t mean they have to come every single day, and they don’t have to come both before and after school. They can pick and choose which times they want to come, and their parents notify their teachers at the beginning of the week which days they want to come," DeCann said.

Quite a few students have taken advantage of this opportunity since it became available in mid-September, she added.

"It varies from day to day. Some days you’ll have two or three students before or after school, and other days you’ll have 10 to 12. It just depends on their needs, their schedules," DeCann said.

St. Michael has offered other afterschool enrichment classes for its students in previous years, including a series of cooking, dance and exercises classes it offered to students during the 2008-09 school year. The new grant will allow the school to further increase its extracurricular offerings, although they will be limited to students in the sixth through eighth grades, DeCann said.

In mid-September DeCook took a group of students to Finger Lakes Community College in Hopewell for the first off-campus activity made possible by the grant. There she and the students watched a man make mandalas, which are geometric designs used in Buddhist sacred art and sometimes made in sand.

"They had a chance to go over and watch him make this mandala and explain what he was doing. When it’s totally complete at some point the mandala is washed away with water. The students were very surprised and shocked that this beautiful mandala that took hours to do was temporary," DeCann said.

DeCook also plans to take students to the Montezuma Audubon Center, a wildlife education center in Savannah. St. Michael students possibly could join students from the other schools in the 21st Century Eastern Wayne County Consortium for that trip, DeCann said.

"We have been provided a list of the (consortium) school sites and their coordinators so that we can stay in contact and set up activities together if we choose," DeCann said.

St. Michael students are welcome to participate in any of the other schools’ activities, and students from the other schools in the consortium are welcome to participate in grant-funded activities at St. Michael, she noted.

"Students might not be doing exactly the same activities that the public school might be doing, but we can join in their activities," DeCann said. "Each day and each week that goes by, we’re thinking of different activities, different ideas, and now that we have a list of the coordinators for all the schools more ideas will come from other people."

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